FA Cup – Sixth round
League Cup – Fourth round
Champions League – Round of 16
After the disappointment of last season, Manchester United hit back with a vengeance to wrestle back the Premier League title in style from neighbours Manchester City. The 11 point winning margin of the 2012/13 campaign will be remembered by the Old Trafford faithful as a fitting bookend to the career of retiring manager Sir Alex Ferguson.
The Scot leaves behind a squad that is full of youth and potential, but it was the signing of 29-year-old Robin van Persie that made the greatest impact on his team. The Dutchman was prolific from the outset of the season and his goals were vital as the Reds completed an astonishing series of comeback victories against Fulham, Southampton, Liverpool, Stoke, Aston Villa, Queens Park Rangers, Reading and Newcastle.
The resilience and sense of unity and belief was no doubt instilled in them by one of the greatest managers the game has ever seen. The body-blow of last season’s final day heartbreak may have been enough to break the spirit and fight of lesser men than Ferguson, but the United boss used it to his advantage, building his players’ mental strength to ensure there was no repeat this time round. Indeed this character was evident in going to places such as Anfield, St James’ Park, Stamford Bridge and the Etihad Stadium, where a last minute van Persie free-kick inflicted a significant first home league defeat for City in almost two years, and returning with all three points.
David de Gea pulled out some excellent stops in some of these games, including from David Silva against City, and the ever-improving young Spaniard was arguably the best keeper in the division throughout the campaign, claiming the PFA goalkeeper of the year award. He also shone in the cup competitions, saving brilliantly from Juan Mata against Chelsea in the FA Cup and F