One of David Moyes' biggest mistakes after succeeding Sir Alex Ferguson as manager of Manchester United was to make Robin van Persie a "sideshow", according to Old Trafford great Rio Ferdinand.
Moyes' miserable season in charge of the Red Devils earned him the sack before the season was out once it became clear they would not be qualifying for next season's Champions League and Ferdinand gave a hint of some of the problems going on behind the scenes. The former England centre-back described how the Dutch forward had gone from being the main man under Ferguson, to being far less prominent under Moyes.
"When Sir Alex Ferguson left, he went from being the star man, our go-to guy, the top scorer, to being almost like a sideshow," he said while being a pundit for the BBC at the World Cup.
"I think that the dynamics changed; the manager, David Moyes, was talking up Wayne Rooney and forwards need to be loved, and I don't think he felt that love last season."
Van Persie had won the Golden Boot in his first season at Manchester United, which fired the Red Devils to the Premier League title in Ferguson's last season in charge, but things never went well under Moyes. Injuries became a an issue for the 30-year-old for the first time in three seasons and the new system in place was not designed around getting the best of him.
Clues were there in reports of training ground bust ups and talk of him desiring a return to his former club, Arsenal. However, any suggestion of him leaving quickly disappeared after Moyes was sacked and Louis van Gaal announced as the man to replace him and rebuild - once his duties as Holland boss at the World Cup are completed.
Manchester United fans got a tantalising glimpse of what might be next season at Old Trafford on Friday as the Dutch dismantled current World Cup holders Spain, thrashing them 5-1 in the the teams' opening fixture of the competition. Van Persie scored two in the win, one of which was a sublime header, and looked a man revaitalised after the trials of last season.
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