Seven years ago, almost to the day, Robin van Persie sealed Manchester United’s twentieth title with one of the greatest goals in Premier League history.
In the summer of 2012, Robin van Persie, faced with deciding between the red and blue half of Manchester, listened to the “little boy inside”. Coming off a Golden Boot winning season for Arsenal, there were still questions lingering around van Persie.
There was no disputing his world-class level of talent, but he had a knack for picking up injuries at inopportune moments in his career. He had only played more than thirty league games once in his career, and only in the previous two seasons had he surpassed eleven league goals.
United fans need not have worried
In a team desperate to make amends for losing the title on goal difference the previous season, van Persie provided a lethal presence around the box not seen since the heyday of Ruud van Nistelrooy. No matter the quality of the ball to him, van Persie would find a way to score.
A goal in his first home start, a hat-trick in his first away start, a goal against Arsenal and several in between; van Persie was electrifying in the first half of the season. A free-kick winner late in injury time against defending champions Manchester City put United firmly in the driving seat for the title.
Even as Sir Alex Ferguson curbed the offensive output in the New Year in exchange for defensive solidity, and van Persie’s scoring rate dropped back down to human levels, United never slowed, churning out the points they needed.