• Premier League

Van Persie 'hit hardest' by Sir Alex retirement

ESPN staff
September 23, 2014
Van Gaal to blame for United woes?

Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement hit Robin van Persie harder than anyone else at Manchester United, according to his former team-mate Rio Ferdinand.

Van Persie spent a solitary season playing for Ferguson but they established a close rapport with the striker scoring 30 goals to inspire United to their 13th Premier League title.

Rio in frame for FIFA role

Rio Ferdinand left Manchester United for QPR © Getty Images
  • Rio Ferdinand has emerged as a surprise possible choice to be the FA's candidate for Britain's FIFA vice-presidential position.
  • The FA is drawing up a list of potential contenders after FA vice-chairman David Gill, the Manchester United director, ruled himself out. Ferdinand is one of several names under consideration, according to the Press Association, despite the fact he is still playing for Queens Park Rangers.
  • Other former players who are being considered by the FA are Graeme Le Saux, Paul Elliott and David James.
  • The governing body is keen to harness the pulling power of a high-profile former player, but if ex-England and United defender Ferdinand is to show any interest in the role he would have to be sure he could fit the duties around his playing schedule.

"It [Ferguson's retirement] took the wind out of everyone's sails. Everyone was really appreciative for what he'd done for our careers," Ferdinand, who played under Ferguson for 11 of his 12 years at Old Trafford, told MUTV.

"The person it hit more than anyone was Robin. He'd come the year before, tasted that success and wanted more.

"Visually you could see it hit him harder than anyone else at the time."

Ferguson bought Van Persie for £24 million from Arsenal in 2012 and the striker was the Premier League's top scorer as United regained the title.

"It gave us an extra push to go and win and be successful in that last season," Ferdinand added.

Van Persie was said to have endured a difficult relationship with Ferguson's successor, David Moyes, though both men have denied those reports.

Under Moyes, Van Persie struggled to hit the heights of his debut Old Trafford campaign, scoring 18 goals in a season interrupted by injury.

The Dutchman had said of Ferguson's retirement last year: "I had to gasp for breath and I shook my head. Had he really said what I thought he'd said?

"The room fell deathly quiet and then everyone became emotional. Sir Alex then had a long talk with the squad. I found it a very special speech and felt privileged to have witnessed it."

Van Persie scored his first goal of the season in United's 5-3 defeat to Leicester on Sunday.

Robin van Persie scored 30 goals in his only season under Sir Alex Ferguson © AP
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