The Rooney and Robin show: On paper it's a dream partnership… but will the strike duo live up to their Hollywood billing
11:02 GMT, 16 August 2012
Between them last season, Robin Van Persie and Wayne Rooney scored 57 league goals and created 13 more for their teammates. They were first and second respectively in the Barclays Premier League top scorers' chart, playing at the peak of their powers.
Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United fans everywhere will be forgiven a wry smile this morning at the prospect of the two most devastating strikers in English football lining up for their club.
They will believe that City's short dynasty of success is already drawing to a close, the title a foregone conclusion.
You've got to hand it to them: Van Persie and Rooney will lead United's attack this season
What if they are a perfect match What if they are the new Yorke and Cole of the Treble season, what if they work instinctively together like Rooney did with Ronaldo in winning the Champions League in 2008
Presumably United will sweep all in front of them with an avalanche of goals, galloping away with trophies at home and abroad. It's a scary thought for the rest if it does work.
Dutch of class: RVP will wear the red of United this term
Ferguson will have thought long and hard about how well the pair will dovetail. To pursue Van Persie with such vigour all summer, to personally intervene to try and smooth the ground with Arsene Wenger and to sanction a 24m transfer fee for a player approaching 30 suggests he believes they will work spectacularly well together.
What this says about his faith in Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez to provide the goals to wrest the title back from City, having regularly and publicly expressed his pride in their development, is an interesting sub-plot. The new super subs, perhaps It will almost certainly mean the end for Dimitar Berbatov, now fifth choice striker.
A glance at the statistical comparison between Rooney and Van Persie shows eerie similarities. In 2011-2012, they had an identical shot accuracy percentage of 58 and there are only tiny fractions between their minutes per shot and chance conversion numbers.
This is not to say they are identical. Van Persie is ruthlessly clinical inside the penalty area (93 per cent of his league goals came from 18 yards or less last season), Rooney is renowned for spectaculars from outside. Van Persie is strong with both feet, Rooney is effective in the air. Van Persie offers a threat from set-pieces, Rooney is a recognised penalty taker. But this does not automatically mean they will complement each other – how will they be accommodated in Ferguson's system
Rooney's partnership with Ronaldo worked because he was made to curb his own attacking instincts to rampage around in a deeper position, allowing the Portuguese to provide the goals. But things have moved on – Rooney is now centre stage and he's unlikely to give this up lightly.
Rooney didn't gel with another Dutchman, Ruud Van Nistelrooy, during his early career at Old Trafford and his link-ups with Berbatov, Hernandez and Welbeck have come nowhere near the almost-telepathic understanding of other United strike partnerships from the past.
Moving on: The Holland international has ended his stay with Arsenal after agreeing a move to Manchester United
Given the nature of the two players' games and the positions they score from, surely Rooney will now have to cede his position at the focal point of the attack and play behind Van Persie
Though undoubtedly as brilliant as creating chances as converting them, Rooney may not take too kindly to being shifted around again.
Deprived of a full pre-season to gel together, it could be difficult for Van Persie and Rooney to find that magic instantly.
Dream partnership Van Persie and Rooney are expected to form a deadly partnership for Man United
The season is upon us and such is the expected closeness of the title race that eyebrows will be raised if United don't win convincingly at Everton on Monday night.
But while United now possess a strike force to compete with City's, it doesn't disguise the weakness of the players behind them.
Van Persie and Rooney will inevitably create chances for one another but the majority of their openings will have to come from midfield. Plenty of chances will come from the flanks, via Nani, Ashley Young and Antonio Valencia, but an aerial bombardment won't suit Van Persie. Expect more threaded passes in and around the box.
New signing: But Kagawa won't provide the steal at the heart of United's midfield
But it is in the centre of midfield where problems remain. In City's 1-0 win over United at Eastlands on the last day of April, Ferguson's five-man midfield was overwhelmed by Roberto Mancini's four. Yaya Toure and Gareth Barry looked embarrassingly superior to Park Ji-Sung and Paul Scholes.
The fact lingers that United have not signed the kind of commanding central midfielder capable of running the show – an enforcer like Toure.
The only summer acquisition in the central area is Shinji Kagawa and unfortunately his game is more about defence-splitting passes than breaking up attacks.
United enter another season reliant on Scholes, who remains stately in his poise and passing but can no longer dominate a midfield, Darren Fletcher, just returning from a lengthy lay-off, and Michael Carrick.
In the delight of signing Van Persie, there will still be many who believe the money would have been more wisely spent on a world class midfielder.
At least Nemanja Vidic is back from the injury that precluded him from the second half of last season.
But with this signing coming so close to the start of the new season, we won't have to wait long to find out whether the Van Persie-Rooney partnership – or as it is being dubbed in the Dutch press: The fat man and Robin – will be as lethal in reality as it is in theory.