All of Manchester United’s nine most frequent pass combinations in the 2-0 defeat to Olympiacos involved at least one member of the side’s back four, a stark indication of the lack of vitality United showed in attack.
That fact wasn’t lost on Robin van Persie either, as the Dutch striker complained about his teammates positioning after the loss – a result which has seen manager David Moyes fly to the front of the next manager to leave market.
Speaking to Dutch TV after the game, Van Persie said: “Our fellow players are sometimes occupying the spaces I want to play in. And when I see that it makes it difficult for me to come to those spaces as well.”
He’s likely talking about Ashley Young here, who was drifting in from the left hand side to allow Patrice Evra to burrow forward in attack.
Ironically, that side of the pitch was United’s most creative with Young’s reverse pass to his striker a rare moment of inspiration and his positioning allowing the French full-back to involve himself, albeit unsuccessfully, regularly in an attacking sense.
However, it all left Van Persie feeling unable to influence the game in his usual manner and perhaps caused him to rush his golden chance to nab a goal back late on in the game.
With United now not playing again until March 8 against West Brom, a game they are 4/6 to win at the Hawthorns, it could be the perfect opportunity for Van Persie to thrash out a solution with his teammates.
His partnership with Wayne Rooney, which flourished so famously on the way to sealing the Premier League title last season, perhaps needs the most work, after looking distinctly absent in Greece.
In fact, the former Arsenal man passed to his new high-earning strike partner just once in the entire 90 minutes as United went down with a whimper.
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