Nine great reasons why RVP can become a Manchester United legend
00:00 GMT, 4 November 2012
00:00 GMT, 4 November 2012
Robin van Persie was fantastic for
Manchester United against his former club, Arsenal and in his interview
afterwards he said both he and Wayne Rooney were ‘9 and a halfs’ — in
other words, part-orthodox centre-forward, part attacking playmaker.
I think Robin was being polite for
television. Make no mistake, on the evidence I saw at Old Trafford,
Robin van Persie is a No 9.
This is a centre-forward who hunts on
the back of the shoulders of defenders, who moves and takes chances
with maximum efficiency.
He might have started as a left-winger
and developed into someone who played off a striker. But right now he
is a top-class centre-forward, a player who excels at playing up front
on his own.
The real deal: Robin van Persie's finishing and movement has been top quality for Manchester United
For the first four to six weeks of the
season, I was seeing a bedding-in period for Van Persie. We saw
glimpses of his excellence but it was also clear that he was getting
used to playing in a new team, and they were getting used to playing
But this has been a significant week
for the Dutchman. United had two big games against Chelsea and Arsenal
and he has had a major influence on both, matches that might be seen as
defining when the season ends.
From my point of view, we are seeing the start of something that is the real thing.
I never liked using the words majestic
and silky but I will use the word clinical. Everything Van Persie does
on the football field means something; he doesn’t move without it
Clinical: Van Persie fires the opening goal against his former club
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If he makes a run, it has a purpose, even if it is to drag a defender out of position.
At Chelsea last week he was involved
in the biggest moments of the game, one that United could not afford to
lose because it would have seen them fall seven points behind the
Likewise, his performance was fantastic. His first chance fell so early but he never looked like
missing it, and with his right foot.
From then onwards, I could see that
the other United players are now seeing his runs, the changes of
direction. He organises his feet before he shoots. He also worked with
Wayne Rooney in defending. United forwards have a history of working
hard; from Mark Hughes through to Carlos Tevez and now Rooney. Van
Persie’s work ethic yesterday denoted a real understanding of what it is
to be a United forward. The successful ones are all hard-working.
When United signed him for 24million, it was not a typical buy from the club because of his age, which is 29. And yet he has left the comfort zone of Arsenal, where everyone knew what he could do, and shown United supporters that he is the finished article.
He has taken two big games by the scruff of the neck. If he does the same in the Manchester derby in a month’s time, every United fan will know they have a special player on their hands.
They are already warming to him. Eric Cantona came to United as an experienced player, but Van Persie will score more goals than Eric, whose record wasn’t bad. Ten in 13 games is a brilliant start, but I’ve got a feeling it is only just the start.
Things can only get better: Van Persie will score more goals for United than Eric Cantona (left)
Arsenal are a big club and Van Persie didn’t make a move for the money. I think the reason he has joined United is to try to become a real legend of the game.
There is something about Manchester United, along with Barcelona and Real Madrid; if you do special things with those clubs, then it elevates you to a whole new level.
If Van Persie can continue like this, he has not left it too late to attain that legendary status.
This Arsenal are lacking star quality
I was disappointed with Arsenal — and I was disappointed for them.
I spent my whole career competing with them for trophies; when you said their name, you automatically thought championship contenders.
Not now, judging by the manner of their performance at Old Trafford. When I think of the great Arsenal teams under Arsene Wenger, I can’t think of one player who started at Old Trafford who would get into them.
Olivier Giroud isn’t as good as Nicolas Anelka, let alone Thierry Henry. Who would you rather have, Santiago Cazorla or Dennis Bergkamp As for the current Arsenal players getting in ahead of their old back-five, or the midfield of Vieira, Petit, Overmars and Parlour, forget it, not even close.
Chastening experience: Santi Cazorla (third right) failed to shine at Old Trafford
Arsenal’s game was always built around pace and incisive passing but I didn’t see that.
Cazorla didn’t have a good game, Giroud hasn’t settled at all and Lukas Podolski would do something good but then seem to drift away again. The 2-1 United win flattered Arsenal, to be honest.
And unlike last year’s 8-2 defeat, Arsenal can’t point to half a team missing with injuries.
Arsene Wenger has a proud record of qualifying for the Champions League for the past 15 seasons. He has experience and I trust his know-how and the spirit of the club. But even so, you have to say there is a real danger they will miss out on the top four unless there is an improvement.