Managers at football clubs are known to place priority for their former club players or their respective national team players, slightly above the rest. However, should that scenario continue even when the specific player repeatedly under-performs? Maybe ‘Yes’, if you happen to be Robin Van Persie.
The Dutch forward is the reason why United won their last and 20th premier league title couple of seasons ago. However, he failed to maintain the same level. Apart from glimpses of form here and there, the striker has lost his form in recent months.
Despite his slide, Van Persie’s former Dutch manager Van Gaal has repeatedly used him to an extent that he has used the Dutch forward more than the present United captain Wayne Rooney in the premier league this season.
Van Persie has so far started 24 times this season and was taken off eight times in that period. During which, the Dutchman has played 1,993 minutes for the Red Devils. Whereas the club captain Rooney has started 22 times and has featured for 1,937 minutes.
Van Gaal has frequently played Rooney ahead of Juan Mata in the number 10 position, claiming that the captain always get the nod ahead of his fellow teammates when fighting for a position. But, for some reason the same scenario has not applied for Van Persie. It looks as if Van Gaal has chosen Van Persie more than Rooney when the duo had to battle it out for the same position.
Degea was the most used player
It was no surprise that the impressive Spaniard was used by Van Gaal more than any other player in the squad. The Spaniard has started all the 26 games for the Reds this season and has been in goal for the entire 2,340 minutes.
After Van Persie and Rooney, Antonio Valencia was the fourth most used player by the Dutchman. The Ecuadorian has started 17 games for United this season and has featured in 1,503 minutes on the pitch.
Despite Juan Mata failing to have a fixed place in the starting line-up, the former Chelsea man has featured more minutes for the Reds than the British record signing. Mata has started 17 games and has been in the field for 1,481 minutes.
Angel Di Maria is only sixth on the list in terms of minutes played in the Premier League this season. The flying Argentinian has featured in 1,377 minutes for the Red Devils. However, he’s still played more then Radamel Falcao, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera.
Among the defenders Marcos Rojo has played more than others with 15 starts. In that period he has featured in 1,316 minutes for the Reds. Daley Blind, another Dutch connection and one of the favourites of Van Gaal has started every single match he has been free from injuries.
May it be midfield or defence, Van Gaal has always played Blind, when he has been available. The Dutch defender has started 14 games and has played 1,209 minutes on the pitch.
Michael Carrick, who is currently out injured, has featured just the 1,099 minutes for the Red Devils. He missed the opening part of the season due to an injury. In that period United droped many points. The Red Devils are experiencing a similar poor form after the midfielder has been absent for the last few games with another injury.
Rafael’s place at risk
Among the other regulars, Rafael has started just the six times this season, during which he has featured for 587 minutes. This shows that Van Gaal is not a big fan of the Brazilian and he soon may be axed from Old Trafford.
Ander Herrera is another player who has featured for the Reds just the 795 minutes. He has started only seven games for United. However, Herrera has won back his place in Van Gaal’s squad with his recent impressive performances.
Last but not least the misfiring Colombian, Radamel Falcao has played for 937 minutes on the field. In that period he has started 11 times and came on as a substitute in an additional five matches. He has played more minutes than the likes of Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans.
Image Courtesy: Dugoutdebate.com, Dailymail and ESPN