Ronald Koeman backs Robin van Persie to silence his critics

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Robin van Persie has received backing from an unlikely source in the build-up to Manchester United's crunch clash against Southampton this evening after opposing manager Ronald Koeman tipped the striker to silence his critics by rediscovering his goalscoring form.

The Saints boss praised his fellow Dutchman as one of the best front-men around, and despite his disappointing start to the 2014/15 campaign spoke confidently about the Red Devils star's ability to get back to his best.

Louis van Gaal publicly criticised Van Persie after a poor performance in the recent 2-1 victory over Arsenal at the Emirates Stadium, and the 31-year-old responded by scoring a brilliant goal in the 3-0 win over Hull City that followed.

However, the Manchester United marksman - who earns £250,000-a-week at Old Trafford - delivered another poor performance against Stoke City in midweek and is now a doubt to start tonight's match at St Mary's following the return to fitness of Wayne Rooney and Radamel Falcao.

Fourth-placed Saints will be looking to end a run of back-to-back defeats when they take on fifth-placed United on Monday, with the winner of the south coast encounter set to usurp West Ham and move into third spot.

Ahead of the game, Koeman was asked for his opinion on recent concerns regarding Van Persie, and he admitted holding hopes that his countryman's indifferent form would continue for one more game at least.

"Robin is one of the best strikers. He showed that and scored a great goal against Hull," the 51-year-old is quoted saying by the Daily Mirror. "If you are a player at the highest level and you are not scoring or the team is not winning you know you will get criticised.

"He is a great player and is one of the best Dutch strikers we have, but hopefully he will have another quiet game against Southampton."

Koeman has total faith in his striker

Koeman could also be forgiven for privately having concerns about one of his own strikers, as Graziano Pelle has now gone six games without a goal for Southampton - his last strike coming in the Capital One Cup victory over Stoke City at the end of October.

However, the Saints boss has played down suggestions that the Italian talisman - who made an instant impact in the Premier League following his £8 million switch from Feyenoord - is having a hard time of it at the moment, leaping to the defence of a player that is now being shown much more respect by opposition.

"I think our opponents are analysing our attacking players and maybe they have been better defending against Graziano," he added.

"As a striker you need a goal to get back to where you were. I have total confidence in the players."

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Robin Van Persie
Manchester United
Premier League
Ronald Koeman

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