Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has no intention of giving Robin van Persie a rest – and urged him to follow his own father’s advice to break his goal drought. He went on: “He’s a strong lad with a great physique. It’s disappointing he wasn’t awarded the goal at Sunderland – I can understand that because it took a wicked deflection. But the shot was fantastic – it was hit with such venom that it’s not surprising it took a deflection. His ability to manoeuvre his position at that point was excellent.” In previous years, Ferguson has found himself answering questions about Rooney’s lack of goals, before the Merseysider exploded again. As a former striker himself, the Scot is uniquely placed to offer advice in times of such strife. And, while he retains a firm belief Van Persie will turn his present situation around, he always remembers the wise words his dad came out with. “My dad always used to say ‘make sure you batter the ball – don’t tap it or try and side-foot it into the net’,” Ferguson said. “That’s what I always tell strikers too. If the goalkeeper saves it, you can say ‘what a great save’. But if you try to side-foot it and the keeper catches it easily you get criticised. “The goals will come. All strikers have little dry spells. You have to get through that period and not lose your faith and belief in yourself.” The Holland striker has now gone nine games without scoring, and managed just one in his last 12 appearances for the Old Trafford outfit. Not even finding the net for his country recently has triggered an upturn in his club fortunes, with the effort he hoped to be awarded at Sunderland last weekend being credited as a Titus Bramble own goal. With Wayne Rooney set to return from a groin strain, it seemed the time might be right for Van Persie to be given a brief rest, but Ferguson said: “Robin doesn’t need a rest, that’s for sure.” Press Association
Still, with 915 points in 1,065 games, Spezza is capable of bringing a lot to the table; he’s a player who can win face-offs, play a role on the power play and at least put up bottom-6 numbers. He also brings a much-needed veteran presence to a relatively young Toronto team.Tyler Seguin shares what Leafs fans can expect from Jason Spezza. pic.twitter.com/iL2UXGScE3— TSN (@TSN_Sports) August 27, 2019Following backlash on Twitter and controversy surrounding the decision, Babcock said Spezza will see action on Friday when the Leafs take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.Babcock says Spezza will play next game. Says him and Spezza are on the same page about the plan. There will be a rotation. Says Spezza needs a bit more practice on the PK.— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) October 2, 2019The puck drops between Ottawa and Toronto at 7 p.m. ET. “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed, but I’m also a professional,” Spezza said following the Leafs’ morning skate, as per Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston.As per Sporting News’ Dave McCarthy, Spezza battled with Frederik Gauthier during the preseason for a role in the bottom-6 and Babcock was liking what he was seeing from the younger forward. Nick Shore will slot in at center.MORE: Maple Leafs’ Frederik Gauthier finally finding his footingThe Toronto native spent 12 years with the Senators, who took him second overall in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft before he was traded to the Dallas Stars prior to the start of the 2014-15 campaign. After five seasons with Dallas, he chose to sign a one-year deal at the league minimum with his hometown Maple Leafs at the league minimum in order to make a childhood dream come true.”Just to have a chance to put on a Leaf jersey is going to be pretty special for me. Like I said, to see the logo beside my name on TV looks pretty good,” Spezza told the Toronto Star in July. “When you get drafted by Ottawa and play 12 years there, you probably don’t think that’s going to happen. That’s the biggest rivalry.”NHL SN predictions: Who will win the Stanley Cup?A 12-time 50-point scorer and five-time 30-goal scorer, his production has declined over the last two seasons; he had eight goals and 26 points in 78 games in 2017-18 and followed up with another eight-goal campaign and 27 points, as well as a plus/minus rating of minus-13. Welcome back to Toronto, Jason Spezza! Hope you enjoy the view of Scotiabank from the press box. That’s the message head coach Mike Babcock sent to Jason Spezza on the eve of the NHL season opener.The NHL veteran will be a healthy scratch for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they open the season against the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday — which also happens to be Spezza’s former team.