THE whispers which were suggesting Robin van Persie had grown unhappy at Manchester United had risen to such a volume that it was necessary for them to be shouted down.
This was reinforced by a Scottish accent, with David Moyes dismissing the idea that his relationship with the Dutchman had fractured and that the striker was eager to slip through one of the cracks. Carefully, since Van Persie is still out with a thigh injury.
It is a problem which will keep the United striker out against Chelsea tomorrow - the 10th consecutive match he has missed for the club - and one which Moyes will have to solve without the help of Wayne Rooney. The forward has been sent to Egypt for warm weather training but has still to overcome a groin injury.
There might be a temptation for supporters to wince as they wander into Stamford Bridge, then. They have already become used to wearing pained expressions during matches this season but their concerns may be salved a little by the insistence that their best striker, Van Persie, is not at odds with their manager. Indeed, they will spend all of next week together, when the Dutchman returns to full training.
Moyes could perhaps do to be seen in warm conversation with his player given the suggestion that Van Persie had begun to regret a move to Old Trafford ever since Sir Alex Ferguson retired had become so common, it was beginning to be treated as fact. "I keep saying it is untrue but for some reason people don't want to write it or hear it," said Moyes.
"It is the fact. Most people know that I talk pretty straight. If there was something wrong I would be the first one to come out and say it. I have a really good relationship with Robin, as I do with all the players. But when you are not winning, people look for reasons, and probably think I am not getting on with Robin. It couldn't be further from the truth."
United could be closer to Chelsea, though. The London club are nine points ahead in the Barclays Premier League and their campaign can be considered a bit of a skoosh when compared to that of United. Moyes' side were able to win against Swansea City last weekend and it is expected and the Scot will keep faith with the same side which started that game when he picks his team at Stamford Bridge.
"We know this is going to be hard because Chelsea are very strong at home. As you would expect, they have made a strong start to the season," said Moyes. "We are a little bit disappointed at not being in closer contention with the teams at the top but we are hoping between now and the end of the season we can do that. We want to hang in there and if we could win this game it would make people think we are not that far away."
All except Anderson, at least - with United midfielder yesterday going through a medical at Serie A club Fiorentina ahead of a proposed move. The Brazilian, who has spent six-and-a-half years at Old Trafford after joining from Porto, has dropped down the pecking order since Moyes took over. There will be a face missing in the home dugout tomorrow, too, with Ryan Bertrand having been loaned out to Premier League rivals Aston Villa until the end of the season.
The anticipated departure of Anderson drew quiet comment from Moyes yesterday, perhaps practice for his conduct on the sidelines tomorrow after the United manager was fined £8000 and warned about his conduct following his comments about match officials in the wake of a defeat by Sunderland in the Capital One Cup.
It was an incident which was used to highlight the pressure the Scot has found himself under during a relatively uninspiring start to life at Old Trafford, although Jose Mourinho suggested that the Scot is not in need of any sympathy. "I don't think there is a reason to have sympathy for David Moyes as he has a fantastic job," said the Chelsea manager.
"He's very, very stable. The club gave him incredible trust when they chose him to be the next Manchester United manager after Sir Alex. It's a club with a fantastic culture. They believe in stability and the power of the manager. They believe in supporting the manager.
"Because they had a couple of bad results and they are not top of the league or as close to Manchester United as normal, [these] are not reasons for David to be in trouble. I think David is very stable at Manchester United and will have the time of his contract to build a team to achieve success and be there for many years."