Excitement is growing around Old Trafford. Not only has Sir Alex Ferguson sent a warning shot to Premier League Champions and fierce rivals Manchester City that United are desperate to win back the title, but now the manager has confirmed that he wants Robin Van Persie at Old Trafford next season.
It’s a mouth watering prospect for any United fan: Rooney and Van Persie in tandem, tearing apart defenceless centre-backs. Between them they scored over 50 goals last season and Van Persie particularly was unstoppable. But I question what this signing really represents and how long that dream strike force will really last. The more I think about the Dutchman heading to United, the more I think that for the club, this is more than just a new number signing.
Before Fergie’s men get the season under way at Everton on August 20th RVP would have celebrated his 29th birthday. But because of his Roy-of-the-Rovers type displays last season, Arsene Wenger is now quite happy to slap a £30 million price tag on the head of Europe’s most wanted want-away centre forward – even though you could argue his best is now behind him.
What’s more worrying is that his best has only been one season. The year before we saw glimpses of his brilliance, but the consistency which was required to save Arsenal’s season only surfaced last year.
Some argued that once he was out of Thierry Henry’s shadow, RVP was able to shine and stamp his authority around the Emirates with the armband safely secured. But how is going to cope playing with the likes of Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney? These are two players whose shadows he will never step out of.
As a rule, Sir Alex doesn’t really spend masses amounts of money on players already in their pomp, either. When he has, you could argue he’s had his fingers burnt: Juan Sebastian Veron was a £28 million flop whilst Dimitar Berbatov never really lived up to his £30 million price tag. Whenever Fergie does spend big, it’s usually an investment rather than an instant fix. You only need to look at Rooney, Phil Jones, Rio Ferdinand, Nani and David De Gea as evidence of that.
So what is Fergie really trying to achieve by chasing a 28-year-old, injury prone striker whose best we may have already seen? Can United justify spending £30 million on a player who you can only really expect another 2-3 years out of?
There must be a concern in and around Old Trafford that Manchester City are in real danger of pulling clear. City’s manager, Roberto Mancini, has the power to go and buy whoever he wants within reason, and Van Persie falls into that category. If Sir Alex could beat his City rivals to the signing of one of the most coveted strikers around, I think the psychological benefits will mean more to him than what could be gained on the pitch.
The United manager has always trusted his younger players and in the last two seasons, Javier Hernandez and Danny Welbeck have both proved their worth. So why change a philosophy which has done so well for the most successful manager the Premier League has seen?
The answer is simple: he hasn’t. Ferguson has already started the mind games publicly by stating that his side have prioritised wrestling the league back from City’s clutches and reclaiming the status as Manchester’s top team. The next battle to win is the signing of Robin Van Persie and thus land another early blow to the mind set of Man City. Let the games begin.
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