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Robin van Persie, the one that got away

Robin van Persie celebrates after scoring the winner against City.

“93:20”, the time in which Sergio Aguero sealed the premier league title from the hands of their Mancunian rivals was hung high in the stands of the Etihad and will forever be remembered in City folklore. However, the game yesterday will not be remembered so dearly to the ones in blue as Robin van Persie scored the winner through a free-kick via a deflection off Samir Nasri’s shin that looped over and into the corner of Joe Hart’s net. This one was settled at “91:45” and will go down in United’s folklore as one of the most exciting Manchester derbies.

We’ve all seen this before (most notably the 4-3 derby at Old Trafford in 2009 when Michael Owen scored the winner in the 96th minute), both these sets of teams showing the mental strength that only a title can bring, as said by Gary Neville. City did it 7 months ago and here United did it as well. Robin van Persie’s goal was United’s 78th PL strike in 90+ minutes, only Chelsea and Arsenal have more (84). This game could have gone differently if Ashley Young had his goal not ruled out for offside (replays shows he wasn’t) and United would be 3-0 up and they would be home and dry. City had scored their goal immediately after that decision. Thin lines.

However this was a derby; a derby which could prove significant in the title race come May (or not). A derby in which temperatures rose, tempers flared, and unworthy incidents occurred. This was different, it had to be. This was a City side who haven’t been beaten at home in the Premier League since December 2010 against Everton. And as Rooney said, “something special” had won the game. He was right, the brilliance of Robin van Persie’s left foot had won it, a man who was playing in his first ever Manchester Derby, and a man who has scored in games away to Liverpool and Chelsea, his previous club Arsenal, and now City.
Red; van Persie chose United over City. Mancini must be kicking his heels as he had let his primary target in the summer slip into United’s hands as they lost out on goal difference in the final game of last season. When Sir Alex Ferguson heard van Persie wasn’t signing a new contract, he immediately made his move as this was simply a player who was too good to miss out on. He had even rang Wenger personally to make his inquiry about van Persie, whereas Mancini was cursing himself and contemplating on the state of his summer acquisitions due to Brian Marwood (then City’s man to deal with transfers) and the fact that he had to sell before he had to buy due to the FFP regulations. Ferguson then bought van Persie for 24 million pounds; a price then considered to be too expensive for a 29-year-old injury-prone striker. But he didn’t bother, he was worth every penny.

And here it was in the 91st minute and 45th second, the ball deflected off Nasri – the man who chose City over United two summers ago primarily due to more money, courtesy of van Persie – the one who chose United over City even though City had offered him 300.000 pounds/week wages, but he didn’t care. He didn’t want money. He thinks that United is the club that can match his ambitions and decided that he wanted to join the red half of Manchester. ‘You don’t always get what you want’ and Roberto Mancini must have learned that the hard way, Robin van Persie was the one that got away.



  1. Opti

    11 December 2012 at 16:23

    It is incredible how prolific and brilliant Robin van Persie is. I haven’t seen someone this good since Ronaldo and before than Cantona… he is out-of-this world and makes Nasri and Adebayor look like average merchant at a trade show. Arsenal knew what they had, but Arsene let RvP outgrow his team… we benefited.

    Scoring away to Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, and now City — brilliant! No Sneijder could do this. 24 million well spend…

    On City, I am thinking that they are going to struggle in coming years in their challenge for title. Sure, they have money, but now and next season they have an aging squad (minus goalkeeper).

    This season or next, their entire central defense and midfield will be older than 31. Everyone else is peaking now and next season, but then what? They are on MEGA-salaries until at least 2015, so selling them will be hard. Interesting times to be Red!

    Liverpool were there and we pegged them back. Arsenal came and we conquered. Chelsea came and we conquered. City came and we WILL conquer…. All hail Fergie!

    • Owen

      11 December 2012 at 17:24

      @Opti: “I haven’t seen someone this good since Ronaldo and before than Cantona…”

      Well i have seen Bebe :p

      • Opti

        11 December 2012 at 21:07

        @Owen: Sorry, I forgot about that superstar. I was referring to players who have started at least 4 games for United 😉

    • Redrich

      12 December 2012 at 03:46

      @Opti: Opti: Philosophy over spending capability is what brings long term success. The deep pockets of Citeh and Chelsea has a temporary effect on their fortunes, but it’s not sustainable at all. You cannot continue to spend that kind of dough on players and their escalating salaries – they will simply bleed out.

      Ask any Citeh fan today if they are happy that after acquiring all the players they have, they get beat convincingly by a cross-town rival that struggles in defense and has never been able to iron out their MF situation since Roy Keane blew his gasket. It must be infuriating and they must make them believe that, with all that talent, WTF is it gonna take. What it will take will be a thoughtful system that blends talent into a recognizable shape that can win their games.

      When people ask me why I’ve supported United for all this time, the clear answer is “I just like the way they play the game”. It’s not just what they do on the pitch, but more of an overall evaluation of the clubs approach and responsibility to the game of football itself.

      Compared to make-believe outfits like Citeh, we are sustainable, believable, successful – and more importantly, true to reality. We get rid of idiots that have mo-hawk haircuts and pout continuously about how poorly he’s treated when he’s playing like shit. Or ignoramuses that refuse to come off the bench and than take a few months off to reflect on how fucking great he is.
      You can dis Ferguson all you want, but at least he has the guts to stand up for what he believes in, and not pander to the whims and fancies of overpaid prima-donna’s that try their best to distract the team effort away from winning trophies.

      United is my team because of all of that.

      • Suraj

        12 December 2012 at 19:51

        @Redrich: Summed up perfectly for all of us, dude. Respect!

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  3. The_Philosopher

    11 December 2012 at 22:49

    Robin van Persie is one of the best players in the world.

    He adds so much quality to our side.

    It isn’t just his lethal finishing, this guy can create goals as well.

    He can play anywhere in the attacking line. Centre, wide left, wide right, behind the striker.

    He is solid in possession.

    His passing game is top draw as well.

    He brings maturity and confidence to the team. He is a silent leader. Just his presence on the pitch helps to calm the whole team down and infuse them with belief.

    Buy of the season. Worth every penny.

    • Opti

      12 December 2012 at 04:09

      @The_Philosopher: Michu has been impressive nonetheless.

      Maybe Hazard should re-evaluate his decision-making skills and that of his agent… LOLing all the way to the bank!

  4. godzilla

    12 December 2012 at 04:37

    I just realized we havent played Swansea and West Brom yet, the 2 teams which have caused problems this season. Esp. swansea and Michu has been impressive.

    we also have run up end of the season – very challenging last 7 games. Things look setup for another brilliant seasons!

  5. Redrich

    12 December 2012 at 04:44

    I still think Walcott is a good deal for United. His speed alone is mouthwatering ans under the right directorship, his finishing skills can only get better.
    Wenger has taught him to pass, he now needs Ferguson to round him out.
    I actually love the idea. He is a younger version of Nani, only he will understand what the hell Ferguson talks about and will not become a shadow player that only emerges when a photo-op occurs. He would be invaluable to our fast attack preference and could be used as an attacker too. English, which will help with the new regs, and unlikely to be lured by a big pay check at PSG or RM. I say do this and see what’s what.

    • Opti

      12 December 2012 at 06:42

      @Redrich: No thanks. Mr. Speed is not a footballer…. and now he wants to be a striker… maybe because he cannot cross 😀

  6. The_Philosopher

    12 December 2012 at 06:22

    Redrich: I wouldn’t compare Walcott to Nani. I think they’re too different to be considered the same player.

    Walcott’s speed would be a great addition to our attack but even if we bought him I would still feel the need for a quality winger.

    I see Walcott’s desire at Arsenal which makes you think that he would be a good addition at United because of his drive to win.

    But he wants to be a full time striker now so I think thats the only way he would move to a new club if they promised him a role as a striker.

    Do we need another striker?

    Also, I’m not convinced of his quality either. He just looks like a fast player to me.

  7. The_Philosopher

    12 December 2012 at 07:17

    I just read an article in the Daily Mail that suggested that Ferguson is interested in Walcott and Wenger wants Nani.

    So it could be a straight swap.

    Arsenal might be good for Nani. He would probably respond better to Wenger’s mollycoddling than he does to Ferguson’s hairdryer.

    He would be a lot more useful to Arsenal than Walcott is.

  8. colver

    12 December 2012 at 13:07

    Yes Van Persie is the world class forward we have been missing every since Ronaldo’s departure. Valencia was a great positional replacement for Ronaldo but Van Persie is the matchwinner we’ve been badly missing. Also psychologically it was an inspired signing. I’m sure Rooney wasn’t the only player grumbling about our transfer activities in recent years and not only is Van Persie the first big money signing since Berbatov he is possibly the ONLY world class signing we’ve ever made (as opposed to developing).

    • Opti

      12 December 2012 at 15:04

      @colver: Berbatov was world class, Cantona was world class, Dwight Yorke was world class, Peter Schmeichel was world class, Veron was world class, Tevez was world class, etc… all before joining United.

      However, RvP is that only world class signing we have had since Berbatov and before that. However, I understand what you mean… RvP have won a lot of accolades and recognition before we signed him… which is rare for United. Also, 29 years of age is strange for United… but RvP’s quality is equally rare.

      • jos

        13 December 2012 at 06:05

        @Opti: forgot van der saar in that world class list didnt you?

        • Opti

          13 December 2012 at 08:36

          @jos: yup, but at least he came cheap ~2 million??? What a steal!

      • Stephen

        13 December 2012 at 13:23

        @Opti: Yorke World Class? Not quite I would say but a very good player.

  9. The_Philosopher

    12 December 2012 at 16:10

    I just hope we can win the title this season. It will be so sweet to see van Persie raising the trophy in United colours.

    Our 20th title with the number 20 on his back. Then hopefully he can get the no.9 jersey vacated by Berbatov.

    It would be nice to see him become a United legend…

  10. The_Philosopher

    12 December 2012 at 16:24

    How long can Wilshere and Chamberlain stay on at a team that has no real ambition?

    Arsenal got beaten by Bradford or some such in the capital one last night.

    And Wenger again came out to meet the press with some defeatest line that made it all ok.

    Walcott, Wilshere and Chamberlain would all do well to just come on over to United where we feast on adversity and we refuse to lay down and be beaten. Where we constantly nurture the fortitude to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat and drink the elixir of champions.

  11. Stephen

    12 December 2012 at 18:10

    RvP is the bomb, end of.

  12. colver

    12 December 2012 at 19:34

    For me Berbatov was never world class. Supremely talented, yes. But he was never really a match winner. You can see how much more comfortable he is at Fulham. And when we signed him he had very little European experience or experience challenging for the title. I feel very bad about how it went down with Berbatov as he deserved so much better. Also in a purely economic sense sustaining a 27 million pound loss on a player is supremely wasteful especially as if we had sold him a year sooner we could have maybe got £10 million for him. But dumping Berbatov and signing Van Persie has proved to be an inspired footballing move.

    There is something unprecedented about the Van Persie signing. Schmeichel when we signed him was better described as a wunderkind-I’d put him in the same category as Rooney when we signed him. Yorke was a very good Premier League player but unproven in European and international football. Tevez was great in South America but very unproven in Europe-his sole experience being a relegation battle with West Ham. Cantona was a rough diamond when we bought him. It took Ferguson to mould him into a talisman. And he had little European experience. Why do you think Leeds let him go on the cheap? Veron I can maybe given you but Lazio weren’t really a big club and he didnt have much Premier League experience.

    Closest I can think of is Ruud but he had the question marks hanging over him because anyone can score for fun in Holland even if he was very good in Champions League before we bought him.

    But think about it. Van Persie was signed from a club that plays Champions League football every year and he has a decade of Champions League experience. He was Arsenal’s best player by a country mile a man amongst boys. Of course Arsenal were a forced seller. But signing a world class player close to his peak with abundant experience is absolutely amazing and makes me hunger for more such signings and starting with a world class defender because Vidic and Rio arent getting any younger

    • Opti

      12 December 2012 at 20:33

      @colver: I’ll be kind and agree on all, except Schmeichel.
      “Schmeichel when we signed him was better described as a wunderkind” — he was 28 when he went to United in 1991 — hardly a wunderkind — he was already voted in top 10 “World’s best goalkeepers” — that’s world class to me. 😀

    • Stephen

      12 December 2012 at 21:07

      @colver: ” Veron I can maybe given you but Lazio weren’t really a big club”
      Lazio won the Scudetto, the Coppa Italia and the Italian Super Cup in 2000, we signed him in 2001…….

    • The_Philosopher

      12 December 2012 at 22:25

      @colver: I’m kind of torn about buying a centre back right now

      I’m kind of hoping Ferdinand can play a bit part role as age catches up with him.

      Smalling needs to play with Vidic as our first choice pairing, Evans and Ferdinand filling in as and when.

      Keane and Wooten and Jones will have come along enough by the time Vidic finally steps down for us to not need to buy a CB

      Evans + Smalling might just be the future.

  13. The_Philosopher

    12 December 2012 at 22:42

    Question: What would we have to do to get Arsene Wenger in as our club’s new no.2?

    I know it sounds obsurd but the guy is a great teacher of football. He can coach amazingly. But he can’t lead his men to victory. That where Ferguson comes in.

    Ferguson with Wenger as his number 2 would be a killer combo.

    What do you guys think?

    • The_Philosopher

      12 December 2012 at 22:59

      @The_Philosopher: Our passing game and our midfield play would probably improve dramatically.

    • Stephen

      13 December 2012 at 14:26

      @The_Philosopher: Are you on drugs? He would A, never be a number 2 and B, Work under Fergie….
      He can coach amazingly? Bradford think so and 8 years without a trophy probably would go against that thought.

      • The_Philosopher

        13 December 2012 at 22:13

        @Stephen: what I’m saying is he is great at teaching players how to play football.

        If you just look at the quality of player that leaves Arsenal it shows you that Wenger has taught them well.

        If I were to send any player out on loan it would be to Arsenal.

        I would love to see someone like Jack Wilshere learn all he can from Wenger and then when he’s all schooled up come over to United to win trophies.

        Any young player should have that outlook: train at Arsenal, win trophies at United.

        I’m not saying Wenger knows how to lead people to victory on match days and Bradford proved that yet again. Thats why number 2 suits him better than the no.1 role.

        True he would never go back to being a number 2 at any club.

        And he most definately wouldn’t take orders from Fergie.

        I was just coming from the angle of stick to what you’re good at. He can teach football. He can’t win games.

        So he should let someone else win his battles for him while he teaches football.

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