Although it is too early to qualify Robin van Persie’s move to Old Trafford from Arsenal as a success, there is no doubting the electrifying start the Dutchman has made to his Manchester United career. It is astonishing to think of the doubts that were presented in the face of Sir Alex Ferguson paying £24m for a 29-year-old with a debatable injury record when the forward signed for the deposed Premier League champions just over two months ago.
The manager, having admitted the pain of losing his title to neighbours Manchester City on goal difference, openly resolved to eradicate any chance of the same fate being dealt to his side this time around. Van Persie has been the key element in Ferguson’s concoction of attacking prowess, finding the net nine times in his 10 starts so far this season. He has also contributed three assists, and given opponents huge headaches in attempting to deal with his sublime touch and accomplished movement on and off the ball.
The added edge that the new signing has provided has been significant, with a razor-sharp focal point having been injected into a side already containing numerous offensive outlets. This has been crucial in providing United with a strong start to the campaign at home and on the continent, with the Old Trafford outfit sitting just a point behind Chelsea in second place in the Premier League, and almost certain of qualification from their Champions League group having taken maximum points from the opening three games.
Van Persie was excellent in Sunday’s victory at Stamford Bridge, during the first-half in particular, in a game that could have seen the West London club move seven points clear of United. Instead, the Dutchman had a hand in all three goals, showcasing his billing as one of Europe’s finest strikers.
This has been backed up by being named on a 23-man shortlist for the 2012 Ballon d’Or, along with his teammate Wayne Rooney. The threat that van Persie represents was enough to persuade Ferguson to withdraw Rooney with quarter of an hour of normal time to play at the weekend, in order to protect the numerical advantage his side held over nine-man Chelsea.
United will however need their two talismanic forwards to continue building their understanding of each other’s games and operate in tandem to deliver success come next May. This could particularly be the case should the necessity of outscoring opponents persist thanks to the Reds’ vulnerability at the back.
Van Persie seems at a club much more likely to be challenging for honours than the Arsenal side he has left behind, and who are United’s next opponents in the league on Saturday. Upon signing at Old Trafford, the striker stated: “I
It remains to be seen whether van Persie will be vindicated in his somewhat romantic decision-making process, but the success that he craves will rely heavily on his own ability to maintain the fine start he has made to his career at Old Trafford.
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