Robin Van Persie moving to Manchester United was the high profile signing of the summer. So far the Dutchman has got his new team off the hook on more than one occasion but he feels he can get better in his new role at his new club. There are certainly a few aspects to Van Persie’s game which could change but his effectiveness leading the United attack is unquestionable.
Van Persie is not a heavyweight striker. His height and his quality give him a presence in and around the opposition penalty area. An area he could work on against bigger sides is being more aggressive when he leads the front line. This means trying to get stuck in with defenders who are looking to bully him off the ball. It doesn’t mean using dirty tactics but subtle tactical changes such as backing in more strongly to hold up the ball or using elbows for height when trying to win headers.
Another key area where he can get better is in terms of setting up more goals and being more creative. He is the best finisher that United have at the club but there are going to be games where he can’t get a look in so he has to chip in more with assists. He often drifts out to the wings on either side of the pitch and the Champions League match against Cluj showed he is effective in these wide areas when there is no room in the middle.
“I am on a good run but I would like to do better. I would like to make more assists than I have. It is not only about goals - I want to make more assists, I have made only one. I would like to improve that,” Van Persie said as on the BBC Sport website.
Set pieces are an area where Van Persie could take complete control if he chose to do so. United often rely on the likes of Wayne Rooney, Nani, Ryan Giggs and one or two others to take free kicks in good positions. Van Persie could work on this aspect of his game very hard to ensure that when United get a free kick on the edge of the opposition penalty area, the fact he’s taking it will at least mean that it’s going on target. No one can question his penalty record, other than the abysmal effort in the Premier League match against Southampton.
In terms of his position when United are forced to drop deep, he could get better. Van Persie is deceptively good at holding the ball up by making long diagonal runs which gives his team a chance to get back into the game. However, his instinct at the moment when United counter attack seems to be receive the ball and then turn for goal. If he makes more of these diagonal runs, when he’s in possession, then it will give United a great chance to get numbers forward before he plays his final pass.
For now though all is well and good with Van Persie’s game. The improvements being talked about are not massive changes, they are just small ways that a good player at United can become a great player. He may want more assist but if he keeps banging in the goals, nobody at the club is going to care.