Robin Van Persie has to go down as a Manchester United great simply for bringing the 20th league title to Old Trafford.
The Dutchman was plucked from Arsenal in Sir Alex Ferguson’s statement that his side would never again lose the league title again on goal difference.
And his 26 goals in the league in his first season at the club proved to be the exact impact that Ferguson had foreseen.
Van Persie ended his United career with 58 goals, but it’s that volley against Aston Villa in the title party at Old Trafford that will be the lasting memory with supporters.
His strike that put the Champions elect 2-0 up will go down as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever goals.
The difficulty in the technique of the strike cannot be underestimated. Wayne Rooney’s glorious pass was sent from inside the United half, and Van Persie peels away from the last defender, watches the ball over his shoulder and connects perfectly to smash beyond Brad Guzan into the far corner.
The brilliance behind the goal was as much in the planning with strike partner Rooney.
Van Persie has revealed the conversation the pair had before the game about the vulnerability of their opposition defence when playing in behind.
“When you’ve got players like Wayne, Carrick, Scholesy – sooner or later, they will find you, that’s just a very good feeling,” he told the club’s official website.
“That’s even more important than getting all the ball; it’s a feeling that from every angle they can find you.
“Because of that, the belief is always there. Sooner or later they will find me, so you always stay positive, because you know that the moment will come.
“So Wayne and I had talked before the game about the pass over the Villa defence. We’d worked on it in training, too. There are a few things that have to come together, though, from the moment Wayne hits the pass. First, you’re making a run for your space. Then, when you’ve finally got your space, you have to count your steps, because if my last step is too big or too small then I can’t really connect right.
“I have to have a quick look to see roughly where the ball will go. Then, just before I hit it, I need to have another look because I know already where the goal is. ‘Everything came together in that moment. You practise these things, you plan them, but when it comes off in a game like that, in the way it did, that’s what you dream of.”
United fans were blessed to see two of the greatest attacking players in the era during that 2013 title win; the combination of the pass and the finish was Rooney and Van Persie at their majestic best.
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