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Wednesday 24 April 2013

Curbishley: Inner steel helped Manchester United win title

PLTV pundit looks at the factors that led to the Barclays Premier League crown going to Old Trafford

Robin van Persie scored a hat-trick in the decisive victory over Aston Villa

Manchester United secured their 13th Barclays Premier League title, and 20th top-flight trophy, on Monday night with a comfortable 3-0 victory over Aston Villa.

The triumph continues their extraordinary success in the Barclays Premier League, it is their fifth League title in seven years, with the club now aiming to secure a record points haul of 96 by winning the four remaining matches of the season.

Former West Ham United and Charlton Athletic manager Alan Curbishley, who is now a PLTV pundit, gives his five reasons why United finished top of the pile again.

The summer signing of striker Robin van Persie

Having lost last year's Barclays Premier League title to Manchester City on goal difference, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson vowed that it would not happen again.  The man brought to Old Trafford to bring the goals was Dutchman Robin van Persie, who has scored 24 goals this season.

Alan Curbishley: "One of the main things about a new signing for Manchester United is whether he handle being what a Man United player means and live up to expectations. Obviously he could do that with his footballing ability but there was also a hunger about Van Persie as he had not won a Premier League title before. Alex brought someone to the club who was desperate to win things and I think it showed from day one.

"When the United players were sitting down in that dressing room pre-season, and Persie turned up, I think it gave everybody a lift. He was a fantastic signing for all sorts of reasons. His finishing is so clinical and he scores different types of goals, tap-ins, right foot, left foot, he gets his fair share of headers but it’s his work-rate that is so important. Against Aston Villa he was back tackling and clearing things off the line.

"They have bought a really good guy as well, he conducts himself the right way. He is the perfect signing. If he carries on in this vain he will become a Man United legend."

Consistency over a long season

AC: "They do not do draws. Their attitude is if you are drawing you might as well try to win it even if that means getting beaten. Winning matches is what it is all about. During the season they have not been at their best but they have still scraped through. That winning mentality is in all Manchester United teams.

"It's very difficult to keep up that level of consistency in a long season with injuries and players having a drop in form, that’s why the other teams have fallen by the wayside. It's down to motivation, every single game. You see other teams fall well short in their performance levels, but when United do, they still pick up the win.

"It's down to that inner steel, it's what has been instilled ever since they won their first league title. It's ingrained in their identity."

Sir Alex Ferguson has led Manchester United to 13 Barclays Premier League titles

The man at the helm: Sir Alex Ferguson

AC: "Ferguson's drive and will to win is exceptional. If you haven't got the enthusiasm to get up and get into that training ground and to deal with all the aggravation that being a football manager brings then you can’t do it. That enthusiasm is the main thing he has retained.

"There's not been anybody like him. Not many managers get the opportunity to build teams but because of his longevity, it's a regular occurrence. We will never see a top club have a manager for that long. It’s quite incredible.

"It's difficult to adjust and to keep on top of all the changes in tactics and attitudes at such a high-profile club. That's why he is so incredible. He has managed to do that over the course of two generations. You have got to look at the competition now as well. It's so intense, not just in the Barclays Premier League but in the UEFA Champions League as well. He has managed to evolve with those competitions.

"I saw him before the Aston Villa match. He is so enthusiastic and he has got time for everybody. That's the big thing. He has always got time for other managers and other people. He listens and he is always offering advice and that is why all the other managers respect him so much."

Losing the title last season spurred Manchester United on in the 2012/13 campaign

The hurt of losing the title to Man City in the last minute of last season

AC: "What happened last year was a major ingredient to them winning the title. Not just to lose the Premier League to your biggest rivals but to lose it in that fashion was incredible. To have been on the end of that would have been a definite spur for everybody at Old Trafford.

"They will never forget that. You can't. Having it snatched away from you, when you are on the pitch thinking you have done it. Alex got the biggest gee-up to fight back this season because he knew that it was vital that they reacted in this fashion."

Having the right balance in the squad

AC: "The youngsters coming through will look at Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and Rio Ferdinand and from them they will see how things are done at Man United and the standards they have to set. It's self-policing. Sir Alex can’t be everywhere so his senior players are his eyes and ears, keeping everything in check.

"He is also using the squad well. There's a lot of criticism about rotation but he is thinking four of five matches ahead so that's why he has managed to cope with the injuries he has had. He has managed to rotate, put people in, play them out of position and get the results.

"It's a supreme skill to manage your squad correctly. They have ground out results, they have ground out a few one-nils and have come back from being behind on so many occasions, so it's that team spirit as well that he has got right every time."

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Key Points

  • Manchester United won Barclays Premier League title for the 13th time
  • Triumph was sealed with a 3-0 win against Aston Villa
  • Alan Curbishley looks at the reasons behind their success