David Moyes is not to blame for the struggles Manchester United have endured since Sir Alex Ferguson headed into retirement, says Robin van Persie, who considers the players to have “dropped” collective standards at Old Trafford.
A managerial baton was passed between two Scots in the summer of 2013 with the Red Devils still basking in the glow of a 13th Premier League title triumph.
Moyes was charged with the task of building from that point, but inherited an ageing squad and would last only a matter of months before being unceremoniously dumped from a long-term contract.
Van Persie formed part of the United side at that time and admits that the wheels started to fall off in spectacular fashion. The Dutchman is, however, of the opinion that players – then and in the seasons since – have to shoulder as much of the responsibility for regression as the high-profile coaches who have failed to deliver on expectation.
“We did struggle because we ended up being seventh,” Van Persie told Premier League Productions of a rut that United first got stuck in during the 2013-14 campaign. “From such a high, we were thinking about winning the Champions League and moving on.
“It was a new period as well with Scholesey coming to the end, Giggsy taking a player/coach role. It was all new.
“Moyes was not to blame – anyone who came in after Ferguson, good luck to you. It was not only him to blame, it was us as well. The standards were so high but they dropped.”
It came as some surprise when Ferguson opted to walk away, despite having previously backtracked on retirement plans, with Van Persie admitting that he made a move from Arsenal in the understanding that an iconic coach would be sticking around for some time.
He added on the departure of a legendary boss at the end of his debut campaign with the Red Devils: “That was a bit of a shock. Just before I signed, I literally had the pen in my hand and I said ‘One more thing Sir Alex, how much longer are you planning to stay?’ and he said ‘At least three more years’.
“To be fair the reason why he stopped was family reasons and family comes first.
“He was one of the big reasons I signed so it was a blow but thenthat is football. players come and go, managers too. He played 26 years and built the club up but that’s life.”
United have savoured FA Cup, League Cup and Europa League successes since Ferguson bid farewell, but they are still searching for a spark and hope that 1999 Treble-winning hero Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be the man to deliver that over the coming years.