Arjen Robben was given the nod to break a record set by Robin van Persie as he was named in Groningen's team for their Eredivisie clash with PSV.

Former Netherlands star Robben announced his retirement from football in 2019 after leaving Bayern Munich.

However, in an attempt to help Groningen recover from the impact of COVID-19, the veteran winger confirmed he would be returning to the club where he began his career for the 2020-21 season.

On Sunday, the 36-year-old was named in Groningen's XI for their first league match of the campaign, which saw him overtake his old Oranje team-mate Van Persie in the Eredivisie record books.

Robben's Eredivisie comeback, against another of his former teams, comes after an absence of 16 years and 155 days from the Dutch league.

Van Persie spent 13 years and 267 days away from the Eredivisie between his two spells at Feyenoord, which was previously the longest time between appearances in the competition.

Groningen finished ninth in the Eredivisie last season, with the campaign cut short due to coronavirus.

Louis van Gaal or Bert van Marwijk should be among the prime candidates to replace Ronald Koeman as the Netherlands coach, according to Robin van Persie.

Koeman oversaw an impressive transformation during a two-and-a-half-year stint in charge of the Netherlands, taking the team to the inaugural Nations League finals, while also aiding the development of youngsters such as Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs de Ligt.

However, Koeman left his role when Barcelona came calling in August, leaving the Netherlands in search of a new coach ahead of next year's European Championship.

Van Gaal has coached the Netherlands twice, last leading them to a World Cup semi-final in 2014 before taking up a role as Manchester United boss.

Former Oranje star Van Persie – the Netherlands' record goalscorer – who worked under Van Gaal for both the national team and United, believes the 69-year-old would be an ideal appointment.

"I have never worked with Ronald Koeman myself, so I cannot judge him as a coach," Van Persie wrote in a column in De Telegraaf.

"What I did learn is that he communicated well, had his affairs well organised in terms of discipline, could stand above the group, [like] Louis. A top coach must have a certain fear factor.

"He can squeeze the best out of a group in a short time. To his advantage, it is not a team with a lot of players over thirty, they are mainly younger players. He prefers to work with that. 

"I saw at the World Cup in 2014 what he is capable of in eight weeks, let alone if he has almost a year for a European Championship. 

"The players just have to realise that it will be super intense with Louis. I speak from experience with him through two seasons with the Netherlands and immediately afterwards a year as a club coach at Manchester United."

Van Persie also put forward Van Marwijk – who coached the Netherlands between 2008 and 2012 and led them to the 2010 World Cup final – as another top candidate.

"I thought his vision was excellent. He is also a coach who expresses a lot of confidence towards his players," Van Persie added.

"He did that really well. He gave his front players a lot of freedom and we – I'm talking about Wesley Sneijder, Rafael van der Vaart, Arjen Robben and I – handled that in the right way in 2010. 

"He gave us the feeling that we are also going to do it for the coach. That really lived with us. We went on cruise control through qualifying, won an incredible amount and we almost became world champions."

Romelu Lukaku has "found his happiness" again at Inter and will have no regrets over leaving Manchester United.

That is the view of former United star Robin van Persie, who believes Lukaku is thriving in Italy after losing his way at Old Trafford.

The Belgium international may get the chance to show the Premier League club what they are missing if Inter and United win their respective Europa League semi-finals.

The Serie A side face Shakhtar Donetsk while United take on Sevilla, with Van Persie impressed by Antonio Conte's well-drilled Inter, led by a reinvigorated Lukaku.

"He [Lukaku] looks happy, Conte works his players very hard – [Stefan] De Vrij once told me that pre-season is very hard," the former Netherlands striker told Stats Perform News.

"You can see that they are acting as one.

"He made the right choice; he's got his confidence back. He's having a great time, he looks happy.

"Based on his last years at Manchester United, he wasn't, so he found his happiness again."

Lukaku spent two years with United after joining from Everton in 2017, scoring 28 goals in 66 games in the English top flight for the Red Devils.

He netted 23 times in 36 outings in Serie A this term as Inter finished just a point behind champions Juventus.

 

Robin van Persie is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk

Manchester United should be wary of seasoned knockout campaigners Sevilla when the sides clash in the Europa League semi-final. 

That is the warning from former United star Robin van Persie, who cited the Spanish club's fine record in the competition as a reason for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side to be on high alert in Cologne. 

Sevilla have won the Europa League five times, including twice when it was the UEFA Cup, and claimed the honour three times in a row from 2014 to 2016. 

Even before that emergence as the dominant force in Europe's secondary knockout tournament, Sevilla had a profile that put them firmly on Dutchman Van Persie's radar before he ultimately swapped Feyenoord for Arsenal in 2004. 

And he knows Julen Lopetegui's men, unbeaten in 19 matches in all competitions, will pose a threat to United on Sunday.

"[Sevilla are] one of the favourites, [but] first they have to find a way around Manchester United," Van Persie, who won the 2012-13 Premier League at Old Trafford, told Stats Perform News. 

"They are cup fighters, they live to play these type of games. 

"I almost talked to them before my time at Arsenal, they were one of the three options I could go to. It was tempting to go there, but then I chose Arsenal." 

United finished the domestic season with a flourish to claim third spot in the Premier League, but it is a club which measures success in trophies. 

Asked if securing silverware was a prerequisite for calling this campaign a success, Van Persie said: "[The] last couple of months [have] definitely [been] positive but they have to keep showing that – the pressure is on. 

"I can't say that if they don't win the season is not a success, after the break it looks positive. It's promising for next season."

 

Robin van Persie is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk

Robin van Persie believes Mikel Arteta has the potential to become a "great" coach for Arsenal.

Arteta has already won silverware in his fledgling managerial career, guiding the Gunners to a 2-1 FA Cup final win over Chelsea this month.

Though Arsenal finished eighth in the Premier League, that Wembley triumph was enough to secure their place in the Europa League for next season.

And former Gunner Van Persie, who spent a season playing alongside Arteta at Arsenal, has backed Pep Guardiola's former assistant to become a top-class coach.

"He was a good player. He was always fit, he connected play, he got his goals. He was good," Van Persie told Stats Perform News.

"But as a coach I do think he has the potential to become great. I said that even after watching the first couple of training sessions, or bits of it.

"The way he comes across in the media, the way he makes his team play. It's very promising, very positive.

"He needs time. Sometimes you look at teams or you look at a coach and think 'okay, this coach could have 200 years and it would not happen'.

"When I look at Mikel, I do see change, I see the positive changes and little things happening. How they work together, how they defend together.

"They are a shorter distance together. Going forward but defensively too. They have got better at defending set-pieces which was always an issue.

"David Luiz is having his best games. He gives confidence to players and most players are picking up on that, doing really well and they really play for Mikel."

 

Robin van Persie is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk

Arsenal must promise Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang they will sign world-class players if they want to convince him to say, says Robin van Persie.

Prolific attacker Aubameyang is in the final year of his contract at Emirates Stadium and was unwilling to comment on his future after a match-winning double in the FA Cup final against Chelsea on August 2.

The club captain had been linked with a move away but is reportedly willing to extend his stay in north London following Mikel Arteta's appointment as head coach.

An agreement is yet to be reached and former Arsenal striker Van Persie says the club must convince Aubameyang they will build a squad capable of challenge for Premier League and Champions League glory.

Van Persie told Stats Perform News: "Arsenal would like for him to stay, he hasn't really come out yet with his opinion. He got asked the question after the FA Cup final and he didn't answer so I don't know.

"I don't know what he thinks, I don't know what Arsenal have offered him and I'm not really talking about money, I'm more talking about players because players like him want to play with world-class players. He is a world-class player in my opinion, and he wants to be surrounded by world-class players.

"And then you have to ask him, and it's up to him, if he thinks that he can win the Premier League at Arsenal. Because winning the FA Cup was very nice but these types of players, and Arsenal Football Club, want to compete for the Premier League and the Champions League. That is the big goal. You want to compete with the best teams that there are.

"I can't really judge from the outside but you have to just put it in place. Arsenal need to make their mind up and Aubameyang as well and find each other or not.

"That's how it is and in the end … part of it now is business and he will calculate that for himself and the club will do as well."

 

Robin van Persie is working with UEFA Europa League partner Enterprise Rent-A-Car. To discover more and to enjoy special rates on car hire across Europe, visit www.enterprise.co.uk

Anthony Martial looked a "£100million player" and was labelled a "Ferrari" by Owen Hargreaves after Manchester United's Europa League win over Copenhagen. 

France forward Martial won the penalty from which Bruno Fernandes scored to send United to the semi-finals via a 1-0 extra-time win in Cologne on Monday. 

The Red Devils had 14 shots on target and hit the woodwork twice in the quarter-final tie, with Martial impressing while leading the line. 

His performance drew praise from manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who said: "He was sharp. 

"Anthony has developed throughout the season, he was involved with the penalty. 

"He's impossible to stop at times when he gets the ball into his feet and he drives at people, his balance, he can go either way.  

"The only thing now is to put that ball in the back of the net again. I'm delighted with his performance, though." 

Former United midfielder Hargreaves was equally effusive of his praise when commenting on Martial's fine performance for his role as a pundit for BT Sport. 

"Everyone's got an opinion on Martial. He's a Ferrari," he said.  

"He just looked like a £100million player." 

Ex-United forward Robin van Persie was also impressed by what he saw and described Martial as "world class". 

"The outstanding player for me tonight was Martial," Van Persie said. "When he switches it on, he's just too fast, too silky and wow, what a player. 

"He is such a joy to watch. It's like he's having a kick-about in his own garden. 

"What I like about Martial is he has an eye for his team-mates – he isn't just playing for himself. He always has an eye for his team-mates and that's what sets him apart from very good players.  

"That's why I think he's world-class. He can provide, he can give assists, he dribbles, he's fast but he has great awareness of what's around him." 

United legend Paul Scholes joined in the praise of Martial, who he feels is developing into a quality centre-forward. 

"I like him, I've always liked him," Scholes said. "I thought is he a number nine or is he a wide player? He's turned himself into a number nine with every game I watch more and more. 

"I think when he squares a player up and gets a run at him, I think he's unstoppable. I don't see how you stop him. He's only started showing it lately. 

"He's got everything, he can beat a man, he can score goals, he's got everything you'd want in a centre forward."

David Luiz dazzled in Arsenal's FA Cup semi-final win against Manchester City - delivering a performance hailed as "fantastic" by Rio Ferdinand and Robin van Persie.

Former England centre-back Ferdinand and ex-Arsenal striker Van Persie saw David Luiz produce a series of priceless tackles, blocks and interceptions in a 2-0 victory for the pre-game underdogs.

The Brazilian made 11 clearances, Opta statistics showed, and looked rock solid as he, Shkodran Mustafi and Kieran Tierney formed a resilient back three.

"He was the standout performer," Ferdinand told BT Sport. "Every cross that came into the box, he was the man on the end of it most of the time, heading and putting his body on the line.

"Defensively he didn't put a foot wrong. When he plays in a three at the back - he did it under [Antonio] Conte as well at Chelsea - he looks a much better player.

"You get the security of numbers in terms of having two other defenders immediately alongside you as a centre-back, and it decreases the space between you.

"So it is easier for him but you can't take anything away from him: he was fantastic today."

Ferdinand described defence as "the area where they've always let themselves down" and an "Achilles heel" for Arsenal in recent times.

If it was surprising that Arsenal should keep a clean sheet against a City side that beat them 3-0 in June, it was made more so by it being David Luiz setting the standards at the back - given his error-strewn showing in that previous encounter concluded with a red card.

Ferdinand said: "He's come in for a lot of criticism in the last couple of seasons and a lot of it rightly so at times. He's made a lot of mistakes and you get criticised for that. Today I think the way they set up helped him.

"Three centre-backs, they packed out the middle of the pitch, and they played with a defensive security. There was a stability about the way they played. They were composed defensively and they had a sharp edge on the counter-attack.

"When they went forward - minimal times over the course of the game because they were pushed back - they looked like a team who were very dangerous and capable of scoring and they got two very good goals."

Van Persie also found much to admire in David Luiz's game, having feared Arsenal faced "a tough evening".

"Tonight he put his body in front of the balls he was blocking," Van Persie said.

"I think he headed away maybe 25 balls tonight. He was absolutely fantastic."

Mikel Arteta must solve Arsenal's defensive issues if the club want to be regularly competing for trophies, according to Robin van Persie.

The Gunners made it through to the last four of the FA Cup on Sunday, defeating Sheffield United 2-1 at Bramall Lane thanks to a stoppage-time winner from substitute Dani Ceballos.

However, the late goal helped overshadow the shoddy defending that had allowed United to draw level in the closing minutes, Sead Kolasinac's weak clearance hitting Shkodran Mustafi to inadvertently set up David McGoldrick.

Arsenal have conceded 41 goals in 31 Premier League games and, while supporting Arteta's appointment, Van Persie feels reinforcements are required to strengthen a long-standing area of weakness.

"What I believe is it is very important for Arsenal and for Mikel to find a way to fix the set pieces," the former Arsenal and Manchester United forward said while speaking alongside Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport.

"Corners, set pieces, crosses, you're always holding your breath and thinking, 'Arsenal might concede'. You fix that with mental toughness.

"It's like when I played with you [Ferdinand] and Vida [Nemanja Vidic], you would die to save the ball. You would put your head first, you would give everything to block the ball.

"That mentality is needed to compete for trophies. To be honest, I don't really see that now and that's not new either, we talked about this before and it was even an issue in my time there.

"You need to find defenders who want to do absolutely everything to block that ball. They should try to find those types of defenders.

"I'm not saying these guys are bad, but there is another level up if you want to win trophies."

David Luiz made his return to action in the FA Cup following his red card in the Premier League defeat at Manchester City.

The Brazilian centre-back played 54 minutes before going off with an ankle injury - Arteta revealed the player will be assessed on Monday in his post-match interview - after signing a new one-year deal this week.

Van Persie, however, is not convinced, suggesting before kick-off he would be attempting to rough up the defender if he was in the opposing team.

"If you play against him, I would go at him, almost try to bully him and to make physical contact with him and move around him, try to tease him a little bit because he is vulnerable," the Dutchman said.

"The first job you have to do is to defend, be solid and be trustworthy. If you have extra, you can dribble, do some nice passes, perfect. But he needs to focus on his job."

Anthony Martial ended Manchester United's seven-year wait for a Premier League hat-trick against Sheffield United.

The France forward struck twice in the first half against Chris Wilder's men before wrapping up the first hat-trick of his career with a fine goal 16 minutes from time.

Martial is the first United player to score three times in a league match since Robin van Persie did so against Aston Villa in 2013.

That 3-0 win, which featured a spectacular Van Persie volley from a raking Wayne Rooney pass, secured the title for the Red Devils in Alex Ferguson's final season in charge.

Since then, United have failed to win the top-flight title, coming closest in 2017-18 under Jose Mourinho when they finished second behind runaway champions Manchester City.

A total of 21 Premier League teams have scored hat-tricks since the start of the 2013-14 season, including Sunderland - who are now in England's third tier - twice.

Martial's hat-trick took him to 19 goals in all competitions in 2019-20, two more than his previous best haul for the club.

May 19, 2013 was the end of an era. After 1,500 matches over nearly 27 years, Alex Ferguson's time as Manchester United drew to an end in fittingly thrilling fashion.

Perhaps it may have been truer to form if United had seen out Ferguson's tenure with a win, but there was something delightfully satisfying and apt about him overseeing a chaotic 5-5 draw to finish off.

Having already said his farewells to the Old Trafford crowd a week earlier after a 2-1 win over Swansea City, urging the supporters to back his successor David Moyes, Ferguson's champions had one last hurdle to overcome before a new era began.

West Brom were their hosts at the Hawthorns in a match that looked like giving the wily Scot a typically emphatic send-off – but the match action proved memorable for entirely different reasons.

'Crazy. Wonderful. Entertaining. Outrageous'

"If I needed a result to epitomise what Manchester United were about it came in game No. 1,500, my last," Ferguson wrote in his autobiography. "West Bromwich Albion 5-5 Manchester United. Crazy. Wonderful. Entertaining. Outrageous. If you were on your way to watch Manchester United, you were in for goals and drama."

Ferguson – who was given a guard of honour by the players and, amusingly, West Brom's huge mascot Baggie Bird – made plenty of changes to his side, though initially there were few signs of disruption, as with six minutes played Shinji Kagawa was the unlikely recipient of an even rarer phenomenon – an accurate cross from Javier Hernandez.

A Jonas Olsson own goal from a drilled Antonio Valencia cross made it 2-0 soon after, before Tom Cleverly fed Alexander Buttner to deliver a rasping finish – their combination highlighting the extent of Ferguson's rotation.

James Morrison pulled one back just before the break, but it was a change made by Steve Clarke at half-time that ultimately proved most decisive, as Romelu Lukaku replaced defender Liam Ridgewell.

The Belgian beat the unimpressive Anders Lindegaard with a tame effort from distance four minutes after coming on, only for Robin van Persie to steer home another Valencia delivery a few moments later and Hernandez tapped in a Ryan Giggs pass to seemingly wrap up the win.

But United's collapse was remarkable. Lukaku raced on to a throughball to beat Lindegaard again with 10 minutes left, before Youssouf Mulumbu finished off a well-worked move to make it 5-4.

Lukaku completed his first career hat-trick when bundling over the line in the 86th minute, and United were fortunate to hold on to a point.

'David Moyes has just resigned'

"I told them, 'Thanks boys. Bloody great send-off you've given me'," Ferguson wrote later that year. "David Moyes had already been named as my successor; as we sat in the dressing room after the match, Ryan Giggs teased: 'David Moyes has just resigned'."

It was the fifth time in Premier League history United had conceded five times or more in a single match, though the previous four occasions had all been defeats.

The thriller was also the highest-scoring draw in an English top-flight match since 1984 when QPR and Newcastle United also shared 10 goals.

Everything about the match was box-office – an own goal, bad goalkeeping, hapless defending, all-out attack and the old managerial master being pegged back by the hopeful young upstart.

Lukaku was 20 years and six days at the time, making him the youngest player to ever score a hat-trick against United – a record he still holds.

Thankfully for United, the Premier League title was already locked away, safe and secure from the 'noisy neighbours' Manchester City. Had it not been, this day would likely be remembered entirely differently.

The legacy

Ferguson's association with United will probably be remembered as the greatest managerial tenure of all time – many would argue that to be the case now, and with the modern sport rarely allowing for such time and trust, it's difficult to see anyone ever replicating such success or longevity with a single club.

Although he managed clubs for 39 years, 70 per cent of his 2,145 official matches in club management were at United, for whom his 895 wins is, unsurprisingly, a record.

The Scot also won 13 top-flight titles in England, more than twice as many as anyone else, while his 1999 Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup treble is yet to be repeated.

Ferguson's successes continue to hold great weight at Old Trafford. That era seems to have prevalence in many of the decisions the club still makes – from appointing a youth-driven Ferguson 'disciple' in Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, to refusing to appoint a director of football to oversee transfers.

That final match provided everyone with a final reminder of both the quality and excitement Ferguson brought to English football, and the greatest acknowledgement of his ideals is United are still trying to build around them.

Is that the right move? Only time will tell, but they are still searching for their first league title since the peerless Scot's departure. 

As elite football around the world is placed on hold due to the coronavirus outbreak, FIFA has stepped up to try and fill the void by delving into its World Cup archive.

Using its official YouTube channel, a number of famous World Cup encounters will be replayed in full for the enjoyment of the football-starved faithful.

Saturday's offering was the unforgettable group stage encounter between Spain and Netherlands at Brazil 2014, where the reigning world and European champions were obliterated 5-1 as Robin van Persie and Arjen Robben turned on the style.

We decided to take a trip down memory lane and watch along.

REPEAT OR REVENGE?

Netherlands were granted a swift World Cup reunion with Spain, opening their 2014 campaign against the nation who inflicted extra-time heartache upon them in the 2010 final.

Andres Iniesta's winning goal in Johannesburg stood as the high-watermark of a glorious era – that ultimate triumph flanked by successes at Euro 2008 and Euro 2012.

Vicente del Bosque's team entered Salvador's Fonte Nova Arena having made a strong case for being the greatest international team in history, with few giving Netherlands – under a Manchester United-bound Louis van Gaal much of a chance.

SPAIN'S ILLUSION OF CONTROL

When the reputations of historically significant teams and players are so entrenched, the mind can play tricks.

A sketchy recollection of this match suggested Spain being ahead, in control and toying with their prey until Van Persie's astonishing goal for the ages. Sure, Iniesta, David Silva, Xavi and the rest certainly had their moments, but in hindsight some of the writing was on the wall.

Van Gaal strung his men out in a 3-4-3, with the defensive and midfield blocks operating conservatively but far enough away from goal to prevent Spain's assortment of magicians from entering those pockets of space in the final third where they can do so much damage.

The Dutch also sought to stretch the pitch against a team craving command of central areas. It was a ploy that paid off and also pointed the way for how Antonio Conte's Italy would end Spain's European reign in Paris two years later.

Robben was frustrated by the offside flag a couple of times in the first half but was clearly intent on damaging a Spain backline that could not match him for pace, while Wesley Sneijder drew an excellent early save from Iker Casillas.

Still, Xabi Alonso put Spain ahead from the penalty spot and Jasper Cillessen just managed to keep out a Silva chip – on the end of an Iniesta throughball you'd ideally woo, take to dinner and settle down with  - proved the game's sliding doors moment.

OHHHH, ROBIN VAN PERSIE

If, in that metaphor, Cillessen kept the sliding doors open, Van Persie launched a gleeful swallow dive through them moments later to sensationally equalise.

The Netherlands' leveller is still a goal that looks a little disorientating. Daley Blind's assist came from barely inside the Spain half on the left flank.

The pass was raking but overhit, not that it dissuaded the hero of the hour. Van Persie, back arched, propelled himself towards the ball and somehow managed a stunned contact. Instead of flying 20 rows back into the stand, the ball gently arced over a helpless Casillas.

From that moment and throughout the Oranje's run to the semi-finals, the imaginations of Manchester United fans were collectively fired. Van Gaal and Van Persie together week in, week out. Oh my, the possibilities…

As it happened, Van Persie had signed for Fenerbahce 13 months later as Van Gaal stoically withstood Old Trafford's pleas to "Attack! Attack! Attack!".

ARJEN BEING SERIOUS?

It truly is hard to square the torpor of Van Gaal's United reign with this visceral dismantling of a beleaguered Spain.

If the first half belonged to Van Persie for his moment of ingenuity, the second was all about Robben's high-octane masterclass.

There were shades of Dennis Bergkamp when he took down a more measured Blind pass with the outside of his left boot, checked inside Gerard Pique with his right and slammed past Casillas to give the Netherlands the lead.

With number five, the Bayern Munich winger brought the house down. Sneijder steered a pass from deep in Dutch territory into his direction and it was a case of run Robben, run as the crowd roared, baying for more blood.

After charging beyond the Spain defence, Robben sat Casillas down and then delayed his shot – seemingly for the satisfaction of making the goalkeeping great scramble around on the floor a little more.

Recalling Robben at the peak of his powers is a reminder of how he is one of a small group of players who must sometimes rue existing at the same time as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. At his best he was one of the very, very best.

LOCALS GUFFAW AT COSTA STRUGGLES

Glorious as Spain's whirring, frictionless football was to behold at times, they were a side who sometimes lacked cutting edge. Fernando Torres' powers had waned and they started all of the knockout games at Euro 2012 without a recognised striker.

Diego Costa's muscular forward play inspired Atletico Madrid to a phenomenal 2013-14 LaLiga success and his decision to switch allegiance to Spain from his native Brazil appeared to solve something approaching a problem.

Not that the locals saw it this way, as Costa's every contribution against the Netherlands received howling boos, including his easy tumble over Stefan de Vrij to win the penalty Alonso dispatched.

That was as good as it got for a man still struggling for fitness after limping out of Atleti's Champions League final loss to Real Madrid. One early attempt to capitalise on a Silva pass had an air of Frankenstein's monster.

For those playing retrospective Diego Costa Bingo, he was fortunate the officials missed an attempted headbutt on Bruno Martins Indi before making way to mass mirth. A stop-start international career that stands at 24 appearances and 10 goals has never fully shaken this humiliation.

EVERYONE REMEMBERS THE SPANISH CAPITULATION

No dynasty, even one built upon majestic deeds, can survive an ordeal such as that wrought by Robben, Van Persie and the rest.

Casillas found himself caught out under the ball when De Vrij bundled in Sneijder's free-kick for the Dutch's third and another error presented Van Persie, who also rattled the crossbar, with his second.

A personal recovery from Spain's all-time record appearance-maker prevented further punishments, with a stupendous double save thwarting substitute Georginio Wijnaldum and Robben on the volley as the game ended in waves of Dutch attacks and oles from their supporters.

Del Bosque's man staggered punch into another evisceration at the hands of Marcelo Bielsa's Chile and their World Cup defence was over in two matches.

Alonso, Xavi and David Villa all bade farewell to international football after the tournament. The latter briefly returned, while Spain have shed Casillas, Pique, Silva, Iniesta and other members of their golden generation since.

Limp exits at Euro 2016 and the 2018 World Cup suggest scars of Salvador are yet to leave their collective consciousness.

Robin van Persie has encouraged Paul Pogba and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to clarify their plans for Manchester United with a joint interview.

Questions over Pogba's future have been a troublesome undercurrent to an inconsistent season for United and Solskjaer.

The midfielder has been persistently linked with a return to Juventus or a move to Real Madrid, while agent Mino Raiola has encouraged the speculation with comments in the press suggesting a move would be in the player's best interests.

Matters reached a head when Raiola launched a social media tirade against Solskjaer after being criticised by the United manager, although he later moved to reduce tensions by offering to "reach out" to the Norwegian and suggesting Pogba could sign a new contract.

Pogba's injury problems have not helped the uncertainty over his plans – the France star has played only eight times in all competitions this season due to ankle problems, and Solskjaer stated last week that he was "nowhere near" a return.

Former United star Van Persie thinks Pogba's prolonged absence has only exacerbated the rumours about whether he will stay at the club, and he wants the player to go public to make his clear whether he is happy at Old Trafford.

The ex-Netherlands forward also thinks Pogba should state what he considers to be his best position, as Van Persie believes there has been unjust criticism of the 26-year-old, who has played in different midfield roles since returning to United in 2016.

"It's very difficult. With Pogba, it's an interesting situation," Van Persie, speaking courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, told Stats Perform.

"Pogba, in my opinion, is a world-class player, he has proven it over the years. He has it all.

"But first, I think with him, and that's after a couple of years now, I think he should come out and he should say what his favourite position is. If that's done, then people can judge him based on this position. Now, I don't think people really know if he's a six, if he's a number 10... that's a big difference.

"I have the feeling people judge him a bit unfairly. They expect 20 goals, they expect 20 assists, they expect Pogba to make Manchester United champions. But, is he a six? If he's a six, then you cannot expect 20 goals. If he's a 10, maybe 12 to 15 goals. So, it's not really fair on him because it's not really clear.

"Then, you have the second subject: is he happy there? There's constantly rumours, you have the agent constantly giving interviews, you have the coach answering questions almost every day, every week. There's a lot going on beside the main event, and the most important thing is football.

"I know how it works, especially if you're injured. People can't judge you on your game, so they start to talk about other things.

"I think for Pogba, and Manchester, it would be best to… I don't know, do an interview together or something, together with the coach, and just say, 'Listen: this is what I want, this is where I would like to play – judge me on that. I'm happy, or I'm not happy, or whatever'. Now, it's a lot of questions going around."

United face Club Brugge in the Europa League last-32 second leg at Old Trafford on Thursday, having drawn 1-1 in the first leg.

An obsession with tactics, team spirit and an Arsenal Christmas dinner helped convince Robin van Persie that Mikel Arteta would become a head coach.

Arteta was appointed Arsenal boss in December after the Gunners had endured a wretched final few weeks under Unai Emery and interim head coach Freddie Ljungberg, in which they won just one of 13 matches in all competitions.

The Spaniard has already had an impact on Arsenal's fortunes. They have not lost a match since a 2-1 defeat to Chelsea at Emirates Stadium on December 29 and claimed three consecutive victories last week over Newcastle United, Olympiacos and Everton.

Van Persie played with Arteta in 2011-12 before the former striker left for Manchester United, but that single season was enough to convince the former Netherlands star that his team-mate was a manager in the making.

Van Persie, speaking courtesy of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, told Stats Perform: "Yes, I did [see Arteta becoming a manager].

"I played with him, if I'm correct, for one year. I was the captain for that year; he was our vice-captain. He was constantly talking about tactics, how we should play. He was really good in that way.

"He was a very good player, but he was constantly busy with the team, busy with the atmosphere, the whole team spirit thing was important to him. He invited all of us to his house for a Christmas dinner! He was already then acting like a coach."

Arteta spent three seasons as assistant to Pep Guardiola at Manchester City after retiring from playing in 2016, and Van Persie does not believe he could have had better preparation for the Arsenal job.

"What I like about Mikel is that now, being a coach at Arsenal, a big plus is that he worked with Pep for a few years," he said. "There is no better college.

"He has been learning from Pep in the last three years as a coach, he played for Everton, he played for Arsenal, he had a nice career, and then had three years with Pep. That gives him an advantage as a coach.

"With him, you have the feeling that, if you look at Arsenal now, it's going somewhere. He needs time, obviously, to bring his philosophy to the club. He comes across very well in interviews, before and after the game, and I think the Arsenal fans and everyone listening to him has the feeling that he's going places."

Arsenal host Olympiacos in the second leg of their Europa League last-32 tie on Thursday, holding a 1-0 lead from the first leg in Greece.

Robin van Persie described Bruno Fernandes as "a joy to watch" despite the midfielder playing just 15 minutes of Manchester United's 1-1 draw with Club Brugge.

An away goal from Anthony Martial cancelled out Emmanuel Bonaventure Dennis' opener in Belgium to give United a slight edge in the Europa League last-32 tie.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made six changes to his starting line-up from the 2-0 Premier League win at Chelsea just three days ago, with January signing Fernandes one of those to drop to the bench.

United's midfield looked laboured in tricky conditions until Fred came on for Andreas Pereira after 71 minutes, and once Fernandes was introduced for Diogo Dalot 10 minutes later, the Red Devils suddenly had the game under control.

Despite playing just nine minutes of the 90 and six of stoppage time, Fernandes attempted more shots (four) than any of his team-mates while completing 100 per cent of his passes.

Former United striker Van Persie was particularly impressed with the Portugal international, who joined from Sporting CP last month for an initial €55million fee.

"He was unbelievable," Van Persie said in his role as a pundit on BT Sport. "With top players, you can tell straight away that he has something. He was silky on the ball and a joy to watch."

United went behind when Simon Mignolet's goal kick ran through to Dennis, who beat Dalot and Brandon Williams to the ball before lobbing Sergio Romero, who had rushed far from his goal.

Brugge gifted United their equaliser, though, with Brandon Mechele hesitating after Maxim De Cuyper's throw-in, allowing Martial to surge forward and score his 14th goal of the season.

Juan Mata was frustrated not to win the match but accepted United did not do enough early in the contest.

"We wanted to win," he told MUTV. "In the second half, we pressed better and we played more time in their half and had chances to maybe score the second.

"But they started well. They play good with the ball and they defend very compact without the ball, they put a lot of bodies in the back and we couldn't find the spaces in the first half.

"They scored a goal we shouldn't concede; we scored a goal from their mistake. We wanted to win. Obviously, 1-1 is not a very bad result, but we wanted to win."

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