FOR Robin van Persie, the days of Manchester United reigning over English football are gone.
And to make matters worse, they will be forced to watch the two best sides in Europe — Liverpool and Manchester City — battle it out for the Community Shield at Wembley today.
Dutch striker and Premier League hotshot Van Persie was part of the last United side to dominate English football.
It was in 2013 as the Red Devils marked Sir Alex Ferguson’s final year at the club by lifting the title — claiming it back from City.
Six years on, and a recently-retired Van Persie, 35, believes the closest his old side can get to world-class football this season is by watching their rivals on TV.
Now a BT Sport pundit, Van Persie said ahead of the season curtain-raiser: “If you look at City and Liverpool, they are the best teams not only in England but also in Europe.
“Even if you look at teams like Barcelona, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, in terms of playing from a philosophy of the coach, I think they’re the best teams.
“You can really see the character of Jurgen Klopp in the Liverpool side, you can really see the character of Pep Guardiola in the City side and, trust me, that is very difficult to achieve.
“To get everyone spot on — doing all the details constantly, working together defensively, offensively.
“If you can achieve that like they have, wow that is really special.”
He added: “Manchester United are like a beast. In a positive way when they are doing well they are huge worldwide.
City and Liverpool are the best teams not only in England but also in Europe.
“It’s a great place to be. But when it goes wrong, when you’re having a bad period as a player or a coach, it’s tough.
“It’s a tough place, lots of pressure, fans demanding not only a win, but attacking football.
“They are right. We are talking about top-level players here. And they are not always producing the type of football that the fans want and need.”
However, Van Persie acknowledges that in order to reach the levels of Liverpool and Man City, the club will need to instil some much-needed stability in the managerial hotseat. And that will mean being patient with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Van Persie added: “Top teams want to win the Premier League.
“But United have had a couple of changes in coaches. If the coach comes in you need time and some coaches didn’t get time.
“Moyes got 11 months, Louis van Gaal got less than two years. Mourinho got two and a bit.
“As a club, it is difficult to get your rhythm, get your philosophy, because you need time to achieve what Jurgen Klopp is now achieving with Liverpool and what Pep is achieving at City.
“It is sometimes better to stick with a coach and give him time.
“It is a big process, when you have 25 top players and everyone wants to play. It is very difficult to get that right. To win the league in England is so difficult.”
For now, all United can do is admire those in the driving seat to win English football’s biggest prizes — starting today.
l BT Sport is gearing up for its biggest season yet with 52 live Premier League games. Watch live on TV or via the BT Sport app.
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