Football

Robin van Persie must lose petulant streak

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One of the biggest criticisms of Robin van Persie during the early stages of his career was his suspect temperament.

Indeed, many of Europe's top clubs were initially put off from signing the former Feyenoord youngster because of his petulant attitude, until Arsenal took a risk on him in 2004.

It eventually proved to be a risk well worth taking, although it took the Gunners a fair amount of time to tame the fiery Netherlands international.

In February 2005 he was described by the Telegraph as "21 going on 9" after his foolish sending off against Southampton, while three years later he received another red card for a needless shoulder charge on Stoke City goalkeeper Thomas Sorenson.

As the years went on and Van Persie matured, these incidents became rarer, but there are still signs that the petulant streak which marred the Dutchman's early career is still alive inside of him.

Twice this season he has come dangerously close to being sent off for the first time in his Manchester United career.

In United's 1-0 defeat at Liverpool earlier this month, Van Persie almost earned two yellow cards in quick succession after pushing Martin Skrtel and then squaring up to Steven Gerrard.

Then, during last night's Champions League win over Bayer Leverkusen, the 30-year-old inexplicably squared up and screamed at referee Damir Skomina, who leniently produced a yellow card when he was well within his rights to issue a straight red.

United boss David Moyes said after Saturday's 2-0 victory over Crystal Palace that he would be having words with Ashley Young in order to stop him diving. Next on the Scot's meeting list should be with Van Persie, who must be told that he will cost the Red Devils if he reverts back to his petulant ways.

Van Persie is old enough and experienced enough to know better. The Dutchman is not stupid - he always comes across as one of the most intelligent and respectful footballers in interviews - but there is currently a real danger that his temper on the pitch will eventually get the better of him.

As arguably United's most decisive player, it's vital that Van Persie keeps his cool when the red mist descends.

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Topics:
Manchester United
Robin Van Persie
Football
Premier League

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