Bad Times Don’t last : But Jose’s tactics do

It was archetypal José Mourinho. On Sunday, the Portuguese manager found the perfect tactical riposte to the champions elect at Old Trafford. His Manchester United side emerged victorious after nullifying Chelsea in impressive fashion. Not that Mourinho’s team was on the defensive in victory against Antonio Conte’s side on Sunday. Far from it. The Portuguese manager reimagined his natural and historical inclination towards destructive football in his finest performance as United manager to date.

United’s dramatic victory potentially opens up the title race, with Tottenham Hotspur now just four points behind Chelsea. More importantly for United, victory leaves the Reds in touch with the top four as the season’s denouement approaches. If Mourinho’s team wins games held in hand over Manchester City and Liverpool the gap will be down to one and zero points. All to play for with just seven games to go.

United impressed by destroying Chelsea’s ability to play, highlighted by the visitors taking just three shots over the match and getting none on target. This is a Chelsea team that averages more than 14 shots per game over the Premier League season and has scored 65 goals.

But this wasn’t Mourinho’s anti-football at play, at least not as many understand it in the context of the manager’s career. On Sunday United enjoyed 47 per cent possession at Old Trafford, only dropping below 50 per cent in the second half when Mourinho sacrificed Jesse Lingard’s pace and endeavour for Michael Carrick’s greater defensive nous.

United also took more shots than Chelsea and played more passes in the attacking third. This was a vibrant, attacking United, even if the team was set up to destroy the visitors from the inside out.

Nor did United kick Chelsea off-the-park as Conte suggested was Mourinho’s strategy during the recent FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge. On this occasion it was the visitors who committed more fouls, even though Mourinho’s team attempted, and succeeded with, more tackles.

United won because, much as in that FA Cup tie, Mourinho targeted both Chelsea’s main attacking threat and principle defensive fulcrum. Once again Ander Herrera was charged with shepherding Eden Hazard, while Paul Pogba’s incessant ability to drive forward occupied N’Golo Kante, mentally and physically.

More than Herrera and Pogba, United can thank Mourinho’s decision to impose a high press for what might be only the second time this season, after the team played with similar intensity at Anfield. Chelsea simply couldn’t cope with it.

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Little wonder Mourinho found room to crow in the aftermath, celebrating not only United’s victory on Sunday, but the opportunity lost in the Cup, when Herrera’s controversial dismissal cost the Reds.

Jose Mourinho Said 

“We went to Stamford Bridge in the FA Cup with same tactics and the game was totally controlled when we played with 11 players,” 

Only the decision that made us play with 10 men for the second half, plus some minutes in the first half, gave Chelsea a chance to be dominant, but we knew that if we played this way then it would be very difficult for them. I think everyone did what they had to do.

I am really happy with the team and the results, because the Manchester City and Liverpool results left us in the position of needing to win. Not even a draw would be a good result for us, so I am really happy for the boys and for us because we keep two windows open to try to play Champions League football.”

 

Mourinho’s team selection also paid off in spectacular fashion. The Portuguese manager rested Zlatan Ibrahimovic for the first time in league football, seemingly suggesting from the off that he had decided to prioritise Thursday’s Europa League match with Anderlecht.

Far from it. As the match played out, with United punishing Chelsea on the break, it became clear that Mourinho has worked out that brilliant though Ibrahimovic is, the Swede has a certain inhibiting influence on United’s pace. Not so Rashford and his strike partner Jesse Lingard. “Maybe we didn’t rest,” noted the manager. “Maybe we just chose the team that we thought was the best team.”

With two in attack, Rashford and Lingard continually isolated David Luiz, with the Brazilian exposed once before the young England striker burst past the defender to score United’s opener.

The manager’s decision to switch to a back three was also vindicated, with Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young full of endeavour at wing-back, restricting the space normally enjoyed by Remi Moses and, on this occasion, César Azpilicueta. The system also offered Pogba the freedom of Old Trafford, with the £89 million midfielder, protected by Herrera and Marouane Fellaini, finally imposing himself on countryman Kante.

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It was also a day on which Herrera excelled in a destructive role. The Spaniard was sent off at Stamford Bridge for two innocuous fouls on Hazard, one probably not an infringement at all. Now came retribution, with Herrera shadowing Hazard to such good effect for more than 70 minutes that the Belgian took no shots, created just one chance, and completed just 78 per cent of his passes, with only 15 in attacking areas. One of the players of the season, reduced to a passenger.

Ander Herrera said : 

“It was almost perfect, Defensively it was perfect; they’re top of the table but didn’t have any chances. On the counter-attack we hurt them but we played football as well; we controlled the game. I think we can be very happy.”

Herrera, of course, was much more pivotal than solely being the hosts’ defensive shield, with the Spaniard playing the perfectly weighted pass from which Marcus Rashford score the opener. The former Athletic Bilbao player then smashed home the second in joyous fashion.

This, of course, was perfectly set-up for Mourinho to shine; the great reactive tactician, a master at building a bespoke plan for a one-off game. It is this ability that has won the 54-year-old so many trophies.

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The challenge now for the manager is to parse Sunday’s victory into seven more than will guarantee Champions League football next season. While the Reds have suffered most when facing middled-ranked teams at Old Trafford, the manner of United’s win over this season’s probable champions may provide a lesson learned. There are, after all, pivotal away games at City, Arsenal and Spurs yet to come. United will probably need to win them all.

Jose Mourinho said in the aftermath

“I cannot yet give up the Premier League, We have to try and if one day we are in the Europa League and in the Premier League the distance is too big, then we have to prioritize and nobody can criticise us if in the last matches of the league we do it in a different way. But while it is mathematically possible, we have to go with everything we have.”

In his first season at United Mourinho has already shown a willingness to adapt and evolve. Squad rotation might be his latest adjustment, but one made from compulsion and not choice. The silver lining among many ominous clouds is that Mourinho’s side still has control over the season’s outcome. If United does well in the games against others in the top six, the Reds should end up in the Champions League places despite sub-par home form.

Zlatan Ibrahimović: The King who would be Legend

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had been the talk of the Premier League even before he kicked a ball. The name Zlatan means the golden one – and unlike most, has rung true to his own nature.

You can take the boy out of Rosengård but you cannot take Rosengård out of the boy.

These words are written at the entrance of the tunnel that leads through to the suburb of Rosengård in Malmö, Sweden, which for decades has been notorious for its crime and its poor economy; it was estimated in 2013 that over 80 percent of its population of 24,000 have immigrant backgrounds, and only 38 percent of the residents have a job.

The Liverpool Game

Zlatan Ibrahimović’s equalizer against Liverpool at Old Trafford is a breathtakingly good goal. His sense to take a couple of steps back into a tiny pocket of space thus giving Antonio Valencia a clear target for a cross demonstrated the instincts of a top-class and experienced striker. His header was placed, inch perfect high into the goal. Make no mistake it was not easy to execute. What shouldn’t get lost in the joy and relief of Ibrahimović’s leveler was his reaction to the goal.

There was no self-indulgent celebration here, just a few high-fives, a cry for Old Trafford to raise the roof, and a determination to restart the game in search of a winner. It was a pure display of the player’s winning mentality; no wonder Mourinho sought to recruit the Swede on taking the reins at Old Trafford.

Ibrahimović’s was not solely recruited to lead the line though. He is also at Old Trafford to add a measure of leadership missing for some time. By sheer force of personality, he’s emerged as the alpha male, supplementing both Wayne Rooney, and deputy captains Michael Carrick and Chris Smalling.

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United’s dependence on Zlatan, both for inspiration and goals, is dangerous, especially with Juan Mata and Paul Pogba being the next top scorers for United in the league, a full 10 goals behind the Swede. But when United needs inspiration the man Mourinho’s players seek is the talismanic number nine.

United legend Nemanja Vidić singled out the Ibrahimović as being central to Mourinho’s side – and the Serb should know a thing or two about leadership.

“First of all, his motivation at 35 years of age is incredible. I think he’s keeping himself fit. He’s professional. And his scoring is a great record. He is the one who has been driving Manchester United forward in recent weeks. Other players have to step up with the goals if they want to keep winning matches. He is playing really well this season.”

If anything Vidić is understating the striker’s maniacal desire to stay at the top. The Swede may not have many years of football left, but his influence could linger around Old Trafford long after he hangs up his boots. A modern day Eric Cantona to inspire the youthful hopefuls.

It’s important not to underestimate the importance of Ibrahimović’s mindset – a winning mentality sorely missed during the Louis van Gaal and David Moyes era. Indeed, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial identified the impact the Swede has already made at Old Trafford.

Zlatan has taken on the role of “godfather,” and was quick to defend Paul Pogba after the Frenchman’s poor performance against Liverpool. Criticism of Pogba was exacerbated by the launch of the player’s emoji across social media. Poor timing.

Much like Roy Keane became, in his peak, the embodiment of Sir Alex Ferguson on the pitch, so Ibrahimović’s is Mourinho’s ‘general’, the man tasked with dragging United back to the top of the tree. It takes a special sort of arrogance to make that happen, and in Mourinho and Zlatan the club has a duo who possess confidence in spades.

It may labour the point, but it is Zlatan’s attitude and work ethic, as well as his aura, that could be his biggest legacy at Old Trafford.

In a recent interview, he said :

“I prefer to win the Premier League than any individual ones because seeing me winning something and not my team-mates is not the way I want it, If I could be first in the Premier League and have five goals and the media attacking me, ‘he can’t do it in the Premier League’, I’d prefer to have it like that.”

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Ibrahimović may prefer to have it that way, but he’s not one to let his high standards slip and, by default, challenges those around him to keep up. True, there have been games where Ibrahimović has been relatively anonymous. He even suffered a six-match scoreless run, but he still has that rare gift of making a telling difference when inspiration is required. As my old man says “He has got a swagger which slays”

Cantona, United icon and self-appointed Commissioner of Football, gave his seal of approval to the Swede, dubbing Ibrahimović an heir, albeit with tongue firmly in cheek.

Behind the jest is a truth: that the Old Trafford throne finally has a worthy successor, one whose influence could linger long after he hangs up those golden boots.

Henrik Larsson: The cult hero of Stretford End

Manchester United fans are currently going gaga over Zlatan Ibrahimovic. After 25 games of his Manchester United career, Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored 16 goals, which is not bad going for a 35-year-old free-if-you-don’t-count-wages transfer. In fact, it’s not bad going by any standards. Before, the rise of Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the famous red of Manchester, there was a subtle and soft spoken Swede who was a fan favourite.

In an era where Alan Shearer’s one-armed sprint was often as exciting as it got in the British club game at the time, despite the influx of innovative celebrations in the 1990s with Roger Milla’s dancing at the 1990 World Cup and Bebeto’s baby cradle at the 1994 World Cup, Larsson’s inverted aeroplane, complete with loosened tongue, evoked Māori-like connotations yet reminded us all of the ecstasy of goal scoring. For Larsson though, it was his way of answering all those cynics who criticised him for ‘only’ scoring goals in the SPL, for never having the ambition to leave Celtic Park and for only being a bit-part player in Barcelona’s 2006 La Liga and Champions League triumphs. To answer those ‘shortcomings’, it is important to realise that the Swede was of a rare breed in modern football: a loyal club servant, who had the talent and goal scoring pedigree to match.

Mother’s maiden Name

Larsson was born to Francisco Rocha, a sailor from the Cape Verde, and Eva Larsson, a factory worker who met Francisco when his boat docked in Helsingborg, in north-west Scania in 1971. While his parents never married and split up when Larsson was 12 years of age, they decided that Henrik should take his mother’s maiden name to help him assimilate into a Caucasian-dominated city and nation. However, despite his blonde hair and distinctly Swedish second name, Larsson’s curls stood out among his class mates and he could not escape occasional racist abuse. It resulted in Larsson getting into many scraps at school but his love of football, where he would train three days a week with local Third Division side Högaborgs from the age of 12, served as a welcome distraction from the pain of his parents splitting up.

The rejection from Sven-Göran Eriksson

Despite his obvious talent, Larsson, at 13, did not have a growth spurt until late into his teenage years and from this, he often found himself being left on the bench at Högaborgs by coach Bent Person. However, this motivated Larsson and at 17, he was promoted to the senior team. Despite his encouraging rise, solid performances yielded no offers from scouts and Larsson began to wonder if his dream of becoming a professional footballer, that he had mused about in so many of his English essays at school, would ever come true. Working as a fruit-packer once he finished school at 18, and with so many players of his age already playing top-level football in Sweden, Larsson began to give up on turning pro and realised that “football wasn’t everything.” The Swede carried on with his part-time semi-professional career at Högaborgs, scoring 23 goals in 74 games in his four-year spell with the senior team, and met his future wife, Magdalena, when he was 19.

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With the Swedish connection of manager Sven-Göran Eriksson and striker Mats Magnusson, one of Larsson’s heroes who was also from Helsingborg, at Benfica, Larsson was offered a trial. While Eriksson decided against offering the Swede a contract, having just signed João Pinto, the veteran Mats Magnusson returned to play for Helsingborg in 1992 and influenced the Superettan (Second Division) side’s decision to sign Larsson. At 21, the Swede was handed a three-year full-time contract of £75 per week. Larsson, while not particularly prolific with Högaborgs, excelled in the Superettan with his 34 goals helping Helsingborg to promotion to the Allsvenskan (First Division) in just his first season. His change in goalscoring form may have been down to better training facilities and coaching, training every day, forming a brilliant partnership with Magnusson or simply because Larsson realised that the Superettan was the platform, unlike the sparsely followed Third Division, to impress and dazzle the Swedish public and potential scouts.

The 22 year old’s potent form continued in the Allsvenskan, where he netted 16 goals in 25 games, helping Helsingborg to a respectable ninth (out of fourteen teams) finish and alerted the likes of Grasshopper, managed by Christian Gross, and Feyenoord, managed by Wim Jansen, to his signature. Having decided to wait for the Swedish season to end in the autumn to help Helsingborg stay up, and having chosen Feyenoord as his preferred destination, Larsson left Helsingborg for the Rotterdam giants for £295,000 in November 1993, with 50% of the transfer fee going to Larsson’s first club, Högaborg. Adapting to a foreign country, learning a new language and without his family, until his girlfriend Magdalena joined him a year later, Larsson initially found the Eredivisie a major step up – scoring a modest 6 goals in 27 games.

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Tired of being rotated and being played in unfamiliar positions, and exasperated with the media criticism for his lack of goals (42 in 149 appearances), Larsson decided that he wanted to leave the 1996 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup semi-finalists. With a release clause in his contract that stated he could move for £650,000, Larsson told Hahn he wanted to leave in 1997 – leading to a bitter court wrangling between Feyenoord and Larsson in proving the clause’s merits. In the meantime, Larsson met with Helsingborg officials but fearful of being branded a failure for returning home, he decided to hold out for another offer. Fate was clearly on Larsson’s side, with Wim Jansen being appointed manager of Celtic in July 1997. From this, Jansen took the Swede to Celtic Park – the defining moment of Larsson’s career.

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Tommy Burns was sacked as manager and, following him out of the door were the ‘three amigos’ – Paolo Di Canio, Pierre van Hooijdonk and Jorge Cadete. This talented but temperamental trio had served up much entertainment in the 1996-97 season but they had ultimately been unsuccessful. Larsson would provide a refreshing contrast of talent and complete professionalism without ego.

Brought on in the 59′ against Hibernian at Easter Road, with the score at 1-1, Larsson inadvertently set-up Hibs’s veteran midfielder Chic Charnley – who powered a 25 yard strike past Gordon Marshall to win Hibs the match. However, that was merely a freak occurrence as three weeks later in the UEFA Cup Third Round second-leg qualifier at home to Austrian side Wacker Innsbruck, with Celtic 2-1 down on aggregate, Larsson set-up four goals in Celtic’s 6-3 win – which more than compensated for his 45th minute own goal.

The greatest Cameo

 

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The greatest cameo of his career duly occurred in the biggest match of his career: the 2006 Champions League Final against Arsenal in the famous Barcelona shirt. With ten-man Arsenal 1-0 up thanks to Sol Campbell’s header on 37’, Larsson came on for Mark van Bommel on 61’ and rather than being the finisher who scored two goals, as he had been for so much of his career, the 35 year old Larsson instead provided the cutting edge – setting up Samuel Eto’o and Juliano Belletti on 76’ and 81’ respectively. The Swede’s deft lay off for Eto’o allowed the Cameroonian to brilliantly break the offside trap, while Larsson’s one-two pullback for Belletti showcased Larsson’s often underrated vision. Larsson was lauded, with the then Arsenal forward Thierry Henry summing it up after the match:

People always talk about Ronaldinho, Eto’o, Giuly and everything, but I didn’t see them today, I saw Henrik Larsson. He came on, he changed the game, that is what killed the game. Sometimes you talk about Ronaldinho and Eto’o and people like that; you need to talk about the proper footballer who made the difference, and that was Henrik Larsson tonight.

Ronaldinho was also quick to pay tribute, saying: “He’s not merely a player. He’s a legend, a hero and my idol.” The Brazilian magician, officially the world’s best player from 2004-2006, was the first to admit that he knew little of the prolific Larsson before the Swede joined Barcelona in the summer of 2004 but in just two seasons at the Camp Nou, the then 36 year old Larsson was hailed in his own exclusive pantheon, ahead of the likes of Garrincha, Pelé, Rivelino, Jairzinho, Sócrates, Zico, Romário, Rivaldo and Ronaldo, by Ronaldinho. With Larsson’s contract due to expire in June, Barcelona President Joan Laporta offered the Swede another year-long extension but Larsson politely turned it down in favour of finishing his career at hometown club Helsingborg.

Manchester United Welcome Henrik Larsson

With the Allsvenskan’s off-season occurring between the end of November and the beginning of March, there was a window for a loan move for Larsson. With Sir Alex Ferguson a long-time admirer, who once compared Larsson to Eric Cantona, and with United having a shortage of strikers, with Louis Saha and Ole Gunnar Solskjær suffering a series of niggles, the timing of Larsson’s arrival was welcomed.

Larsson’s spell of 3 goals in 13 games is fondly remembered by United fans, with the Swede scoring on his debut in the 2-1 FA Cup 3rd Round against Aston Villa, in the 4-0 Premier League rout over Watford and in the 2-0 win over Lille in the Champions League. Ferguson desperately wanted to retain the Swede but Larsson made a promise to Helsingborg and although he would later reveal that the biggest regret of his career was “not staying at United longer”, Larsson stayed true to his word. The English FA gave him and the injury-hit Alan Smith special dispensation for Premier League winner’s medals, as Larsson played 7 league games and Smith appeared in 9 league matches (both short of the Premier League’s quota of 10), after United finished six points clear of Chelsea with 89 points.

Finally, Larsson’s career at the very top of the club game was over. He continued to play for his country and appeared at Euro 2008 but by then Zlatan Ibrahimović had become Sweden’s key man.

As a remarkable career was reaching its end, Larsson was a player who had gained the respect of just about all who had come into contact with him. Strong, skilful, selfless and superb in the air for a man who stood at just 5’9’’, Larsson was the complete striker.

In the no-win environment of modern football, players are chastised for a lack of loyalty and also for a lack of ambition. Henrik Larsson was sometimes accused of the latter by showing his appreciation to Celtic, with whom he had resurrected a drifting career at the age of 25.

It took time for the King of Kings to become one of the best in the business but his move to Celtic was to prove the making of him. Eventually, he would become Europe’s top scorer, a league champion in three countries and a Champions League winner.

 

 

 

An Ode To Robin Van Persie

It was Wednesday, 15th July 2015 when Fenerbahce announced the signing of Dutch captain Robin van Persie from Manchester United.Despite all the commotion in Turkey, there was hardly any acknowledgement from Manchester United that Robin van Persie had left the club. It seemed as if the popular Dutchman had been forced out the back door, and theories began to surface that van Persie’s departure from Old Trafford was far from a clean break.

The Million Dollar question: what is Robin van Persie’s legacy at Manchester United?

When van Persie completed his 24 million pound move from Arsenal to United, the “little boy” inside him certainly wouldn’t have known his Old Trafford stay would be over in 3 years. The Dutchman left the Emirates to win trophies, and van Persie did indeed end his long-awaited drought for a Premier League title.  But as Manchester United have fallen dramatically from their peak, so has the Dutch captain, who has underperformed significantly in the last two seasons. While van Persie did score a respectable 18 goals in the nightmare 2013/14 season under Louis Van Gaal, the injuries that plagued the striker’s Arsenal career made an unwelcome return. Van Persie missed 22 games over the course of his second season at Manchester United after going over two and a half years without a significant injury. Those two and a half years saw the best football of van Persie’s career, as he established himself as one of—if not the—best center forwards in the game at the time.

However, Robin van Persie does indeed leave a legacy at Old Trafford, for leading Manchester United to an unprecedented 20th league title in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season in charge. While it is true that being the catalyst for a sole league title does not automatically warrant a place in Old Trafford folklore, as many others have come and conquered, and yet still left the club without a legacy to be remembered by, van Persie is different. He traded the red of Arsenal for the red of United at what seemed to be a crossroads for the club. The “noisy neighbours” at the Etihad had snatched the title in the most dramatic of circumstance in the dying embers of the 2011/12 season; as City fans will remind their rivals for decades to come, they clinched their first title in 44 years in Fergie Time.

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While the Red Devils lost out solely on goal difference, it seemed as if a power shift was in progress. While the title was officially lost on the back of 8 goals, there is no denying that losses in both Manchester derbies condemned United to second place. Even now, United fans have nightmares of that day in October when City put 6 past David De Gea.

There was an undeniable gulf in quality between the two Manchester clubs, as years of stringent financial discipline under the Glazers, especially in the post-Ronaldo era, had left a squad bereft of quality, aside from the talismanic Wayne Rooney. For many years, mediocre teams had been propelled by the sheer will of Sir Alex Ferguson, but even the Scot could no longer dominate with such a team. It was a harrowing time for anyone associated with Manchester United, and many feared the collapse of an empire, much like that of bitter rivals Liverpool.

And then Robin van Persie arrived.

After announcing his desire to leave Arsenal, van Persie had two main suitors: the red and blue halves of Manchester. It seemed an easy choice: getting a huge pay check to play alongside world class players for the current English champions. And yet the little boy inside van Persie screamed for Manchester United. Yes, the money was the same as on offer at the Etihad, but aside from Wayne Rooney, the team was devoid of world class talent. There was no guarantee United were the club that would help van Persie gain that elusive Premier League title, and yet he chose Red. Thank God he chose Red. Van Persie’s debut season will go down as one of the greatest debut seasons of all time. There were certainly doubts about his fitness and his age when United paid 24 million to bring the striker to Old Trafford, but from the moment he nonchalantly connected with Patrice Evra’s cross to gracefully power a half-volley into the top corner against Fulham, there would be no more doubts.

During the 2012/13 season, Robin van Persie was second to none. Every weekend, he would produce a moment of magic; a hat-trick against Southampton, winners at Anfield and the Etihad, goals against Chelsea and Arsenal. Even less high-profile goals are fondly remembered: a curler against West Brom, a Bergkampesque turn and finish against West Ham, a finely placed right footed strike against Wigan. He scored, he created, he mesmerized the Old Trafford faithful. Every single thing he did on the football pitch was sublime; this was a complete forward, very much at the peak of his powers, and he transformed an average Manchester United to team into runaway league leaders.  For all of Wayne Rooney’s footballing talent, there always seemed to be an industrial side to his game that few have come to appreciate, despite his undoubted ability. Van Persie was different; he was classy, graceful, poetry in motion.

What set him apart though could be seen as a flaw, but to me, is a trait that highlights why he was perfect for Manchester United: his arrogance. Here was a player who was better than everyone else, and he knew it. He would score last minute winners, and bask in the adoration of the fans:

“Yes, here I am, I score when I want, how I want.”

Robin van Persie epitomized Manchester United, and encapsulated the ethos of a club used to being the best, used to winning in style. It was only fitting that his hat-trick sealed the league title, and of course, he did it like no one else could, with an unbelievable volley that few would have the audacity to attempt.

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It is unlikely that his first league title quenched van Persie’s thirst for trophies; instead, it most likely made him hungrier. But I believe van Persie’s decline has a lot to do with Sir Alex Ferguson’s sudden retirement. As Rio Ferdinand recently revealed, no player was more distraught by the news of Ferguson’s retirement than the Dutchman, who had likely joined on the promise that the Scot would be at the helm for years to come. Ferguson, being the serial winner that he was, certainly played a big role in van Persie’s decision to join the club. His abrupt retirement ended van Persie’s dream of becoming a serial winner like the legendary manager, but in truth, he had already come to embody Ferguson on the pitch that season: an inspiring figure who elevated those around him to greater heights. Manchester United romped to the title that year, all because of Robin van Persie.

Arsenal fans mock his trophy haul in comparison to theirs after his departure, and condemn him to never achieving legend status, for leaving Arsenal a traitor and being forced out of Manchester United.

But van Persie’s decision to leave the Emirates was justified: he won the league title he craved, and while he might not be an Old Trafford legend in the vein of a Ryan Giggs or a Paul Scholes, van Persie will always be remembered for that 2012/13 season, when he reaffirmed the stature of this great club in a time of crisis. Robin van Persie chose the number 20 to bring home title number 20, and he succeeded in his quest, all the while producing moments of magic.

Thank You Robin

I have had a sleep deprived day owing to a death of a colleague but you know what I will be awake and I will be singing

“As the Reds go marching in

I wanna be in that number “

 

But, the time I see you walk out of the tunnel in Old Trafford, I will close my eyes and say to myself

“Thank You Robin”

Have a good game tonight Robin and Hope you are associated with the spirit of Manchester United forever.