Robin van Persie is the kind of player you rarely meet in your life: an exception, the very definition of the word. He has everything a coach dreams to have in a single player: he's smart, classy, clever when he moves, has killer-instinct, and is focused during 90 minutes.
He has a deep love for football. He watches matches at home, analysing everything. It's so rare for a single player to have such a quest for perfection, allied with such talent and class. It's fortunate. He spent eight seasons with me, and he never stopped developing himself. We could never imagine he would become the player he is right now. It hurts to see him wear another shirt when he is at top level.
He's not difficult to manage because he is an ultra-pro. He's at home every night. If you ring him at 10 in the evening, he will answer, because he will be watching some game or preparing himself for some match. With those roots, he is easy to work with. You can have different views to him and, because he has a strong character, he expresses himself like the Dutch usually do when talking about football. But it's pretty easy to discuss things with him because every movement, every gesture has to be done with perfection for him.
Now he's gone, don't ask the fans to understand what is not understandable. Even I do not understand, and I am deep at the heart of the decisions. You have to deal with it. That's life. We are here to help people to express their talents. A coach must have a positive influence on their players' lives.
I would have preferred Van Persie to sign for a club in a foreign country, in order to avoid playing against him several times per season, but it's a fine challenge for us to prove we can exist after such a move, to show we can score goals, play well and survive everything.
RVP and Wayne Rooney have everything to play together. Sometimes, great goalscorers don't really fit together. But if you analyse the pair's technical skills on the pitch, it can work. It will require some understanding, from the technical and from the personal point of view, but their separate success will increase the links between them. If those links exist and if they both score, it will be very, very strong.