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We're not better off without Van Persie - Moyes

ESPN staff
March 24, 2014
David Moyes has defended his decision to prefer Robin van Persie in the central role ahead of Juan Mata © Getty Images

David Moyes insists that Robin van Persie is a "massive miss" and that Manchester United are not better off without the striker in the starting line-up.

Van Persie is currently sidelined for up to six weeks with a sprained knee, which the striker acquired shortly after completing a hat-trick against Olympiakos to send United into the Champions League last eight.

However, while record signing Juan Mata impressed in the Dutchman's absence during United's 2-0 victory at West Ham on Saturday, Moyes downplayed discussion that his side are better off without Van Persie.

"There isn't any club in Europe or the world who wouldn't want Robin van Persie playing centre-forward for them and for us it's a massive miss," Moyes said.

"He changed the Champions League game [against Olympiakos] with the goals he scored but I've got to say that Juan Mata came to play two or three different positions."

With a fit Van Persie often preferred as United's out-and-out central striker, Mata has only played two of his eight United appearances in the role he publically stated that he prefers.

When both Wayne Rooney and Van Persie have started, Moyes has opted to play Mata on the wing in order to accommodate all of his star players - a similar situation that Mata experienced under Jose Mourinho shortly before his £37.1 million move away from Chelsea.

Ahead of Tuesday's Manchester derby at Old Trafford, City midfielder David Silva criticised United for not necessarily getting the best out of Mata, but Moyes has launched a staunch defence of his tactics and that Mata should not be defined by his club record fee.

"You're never going to go through a season where you don't have injuries and players will be injured. You can't always have Wayne Rooney fit for every game or Robin van Persie fit for every game. That's why you need a squad of players. I think that Juan's come in and played very well on Saturday. He's done well in all the games but on Saturday he was closer to scoring himself and maybe should have on a couple of occasions.

"I don't think you should look too much into the transfer fee, you should look at what his qualities are. There will be a lot of inflated prices on transfers but that's the way the market is now."

One player who flourished as a result of Mata's recent return to a central role was Rooney, who scored both goals in United's victory at Upton Park.

Rooney's first strike was a wonder goal which attracted widespread plaudits, but Moyes reserved special praise for the 28-year-old's overall teamwork.

"His form throughout the season has been very good," Moyes said. "And his goal capped off what everybody is aware what he is capable of. He's spoken about a lot, he's talked about because of the ability he has got as a footballer.

"He's showed it in a way maybe everyone expects he's capable of something which maybe many other players are capable of. More important for me is how he has played for the team, from the first game, he's been a great team player."

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