Monday 22 April 2013
Sir Alex Ferguson said his Manchester United side have joined the list of greats who have played under him at Old Trafford after a first-half hat-trick from Robin van Persie steered Manchester United to a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa and their 13th Barclays Premier League title.
The United manager dismissed claims that his present side was not as good as previous teams he has managed and said that Van Persie’s second goal against Villa was one of the greats he has witnessed.
"It's dead easy to say that, nostalgia plays tricks on people's minds,” he said. “Put it in context, we've now got 84 points with four games left - we've never done that.
"We've won most of our games, drawn three, lost four, and the [Van Persie] goal tonight ... all the great goals we've scored over the years, from David Beckham through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Eric Cantona, that goal has joined that. These players have joined the pedestal."
"We've got 84 points with four games left; we've never done that"
Sir Alex Ferguson
Ferguson added: "I'm delighted for all the players, for myself, the staff and the supporters. You can go on and on about losing a title [last season] but at the end of the day, our consistency for the last 20 years is unbelievable.
"The focus of the team was good, they focused on the challenge of City and came up trumps."
It was apt that Manchester United’s No 20 helped the club claim their 20th league title overall. The Dutchman was Ferguson’s key signing in the summer when the manager plotted regaining the trophy so dramatically taken from United by Manchester City in the final minute of last season.
It took less than two minutes for Van Persie to give United the lead. A deep ball to Ryan Giggs on the left was sent across the face of goal by the Welshman and Van Persie was able to finish from four yards at the far post.
Van Persie’s second on 13 minutes was reminiscent of his time at Arsenal. A long ball over the top from Wayne Rooney who played mainly in midfield was met on the volley by Van Persie, who sent it into the far corner from 20 yards.
"It was a great ball from Wayne, so the only thing I had to do was guide it right and hit it properly and it went in great but more important was the result,” said Van Persie.
Ferguson was happy to give it more praise. When asked if it was the goal of the season, the Scot said: "Of the century for me. It was a marvellous hit, head down, over the ball, perfect timing - a magnificent strike. He's been unbelievable, his early form in the first six months was fantastic. He had the spell where he didn't score but he was unbelievable tonight."
Twenty minutes later Giggs was the provider again for Van Persie’s hat-trick opting to pass rather than shoot and the Dutchman coolly slotted the ball past four defenders on the line.
Villa had their chances throughout the match, most notably Christian Benteke in the first half and a header from Andreas Weimann that Van Persie cleared off his goalline.
"I had to wait so long for my first title"
Robin van Persie
If Villa had won Queens Park Rangers and Reading would have been relegated. The defeat meant Villa remain a place above the bottom three, three points clear of Wigan Athletic, who have a match in hand and have a better goal difference.
Under the Premier League policy of awarding the Barclays Premier League trophy at the champions' last home match of season, this ceremony will take place on 12 May at the match against Swansea City.
Van Persie was relieved finally to win a first Barclays Premier League title. "I am very happy but it is weird," he said. "I had to wait so long for my first title. It is a great feeling. It is a fantastic team and fantastic players."
Rooney revealed that last year's heartbreak against City spurred them on to glory this season.
"It's what we've worked all year for and we've fully deserved it. We won this game in the first half and it is a fantastic night for us," he said. "When you lose the title, it's hard to take and the way we did it wasn't a nice feeling last time so we've all dug in deep and all worked together and done fantastic to put ourselves in the position tonight to finish the job off.
"You know how football is so you never take anything for granted so we worked hard and thankfully now it's done. The manager has great desire and a winning mentality. We all buy into that and want to do well for the club."
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