When Robin van Persie made his £24million switch from Arsenal to Manchester United last August, questions were raised in the Stretford End – and echoed by football fans around the country – can the Dutchman recreate the show-stopping form displayed for the North London club?
Not only did the 29-year-old silence his loudest critics, but by January 20, he had notched an impressive 18 goals in 23 league matches.
But in the six games since then, the striker has only managed one goal – against Everton on February 10 – and in that stretch he also failed to find the net in the Champions League clash with Real Madrid and in the draw against Chelsea in the FA Cup quarterfinal.
The fact of the matter remains, ‘big’ players should step up for the big games, and when player of the year is being decided, that must be taken into consideration.
Nine matches remain in the 2012-13 season, and the general consensus from pundits is there are three main contenders for the top prize, Gareth Bale, Luis Suarez, and van Persie.
A factor that could be considered more worrying for United fans is the attitude adopted by van Persie in the last six games, the once dominating, terroriser of defenders, seems a little, disinterested?
The killer spark admired by fans worldwide seems to have dimmed in the past few matches, his desire for the ball and the tired nature of his passes and runs must be disheartening to his teammates.
To put it mildly, the hunger shown by Bale and Suarez leaves van Persie chasing shadows, much like his on-field action.
Suarez has scored 22 goals in 29 matches, including five in the last four – and although branded the ‘man you love to hate’ The Uruguayan has shown persistence beyond measure and certainly thrives on negative press.
But as a contender, Welshman Bale cannot be overlooked. Granted, his goal tally is less than Suarez and van Persie’s, but his ability to tear-up defences with his killer left foot renders most commentators speechless, week-in week-out.
Not to disrespect Tottenham Hotspur, but the dip-in-form of Emmanual Adebayor and Jermain Defoe has allowed Bale to lead the team, and Spurs would not be in fourth without him.
It isn’t that van Persie is no longer one of the world’s brightest footballing stars, but if United were not sitting pretty 15 points clear of their neighbours Manchester City, the Dutchman could’ve been struck off the short-list a while back.
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