In the summer of 2012, the football world was shocked by the news that Robin van Persie of Arsenal had signed for rivals Manchester United in a £24 million move, as reported by BBC sport. Sir Alex Ferguson rubbed salt in the wounds of Arsenal fans when he stated that, ‘The boy wanted to come. He turned down various clubs. If he hadn’t told Arsenal he wanted to go to Manchester United, the transfer wouldn’t have happened’.
Arsenal fans felt betrayed, a ready-made legend of their club had chosen to move to a rival to win trophies he felt he would not win at their club, however, he still had to put his money where his mouth is and prove to football fans everywhere that he had made the right choice for his career. Van Persie needed to win trophies.
In his first season with United, Van Persie made 48 appearances In all competitions, scoring 30 goals and getting 15 assists, a fantastic attacking return. Famously, Van Persie scored a first half hattrick against Aston Villa at Old Trafford in the game that sealed United’s 20th league title, as reported by BBC Sport.
All in all, the £24 million United paid for the Dutchman felt like a bargain come the end of the season, it was clear that Van Persie was the missing piece in the Manchester United puzzle and signing him was the difference between winning a 20th league title or not.
Not only was this league title a record-breaking achievement for the team, but it was also the first Premier League title of Van Persie’s career, a huge personal achievement for the then 29-year-old striker. The personal achievements did not stop there for the attacker, as Van Persie picked up the Premier League golden boot award for the 2012/13 season after scoring 26 goals in the league.
Van Persie also scooped up the prestigious Sir Matt Busby Player of the year award for Manchester United due to his contributions during the 2012/13 season.
The Mirror reported that Van Persie could barely contain his excitement upon receiving the prestigious award, voted for each year by the clubs’ fans, he stated; ‘This whole year has been incredible. I have to thank all the boys, the staff, and the fans, who since day one, have been unbelievable. It’s been an honour. It’s made such a big impact on me, and I’m still thrilled about what’s happened in the last 10 months or so.’
The way Van Persie spoke about the club showed how much he loved the club and its fans; he was quickly making himself a fan favourite.
Of course, the 2012/13 season was Sir Alex Ferguson’s last at the club, choosing to leave on the high of a 20th league title, meaning Van Persie only had one season under the manager that he left Arsenal to play under.
According to defender Rio Ferdinand, Van Persie was one of the players who took Sir Alex Fergusons retirement the worst, claiming the striker was ‘heartbroken’, as reported by The Mirror.
The retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson led to uncertainty surrounding the club and the futures of players, but Van Persie stayed loyal to the club which he had fell in love with.
The 2013/14 season was a tough one for all those associated with Manchester United, with David Moyes struggling as new manager and the team eventually finishing seventh in the league after a disappointing campaign and the sacking of Moyes.
However, Van Persie still made an impact, scoring 18 goals and getting three assists in 28 appearances across all competitions. These numbers becoming more impressive when you add in the factor that Van Persie missed 15 league games this season due to various injuries.
Van Persie’s departure came in the summer of 2015, with the striker signing for Fenerbahçe for an undisclosed fee, as reported by BBC Sport. The striker stated; ‘I had a good moment with the players the day before I came to Istanbul so that was special. Then you see that everyone really appreciated my time there, that was important for me,’ showing that Van Persie was a player not only loved by the fans for his contribution towards the club’s success, but by the players themselves.
Van Persie departed United with 58 goals in 105 appearances, as well as being widely recognised as Sir Alex Fergusons final crucial signing as Manchester United manager, and the man that led United to a 20th League title, something that has yet to be beaten in English Football.
For this reason, the Arsenal boy became a United legend, and will forever be recognised as a hero on the red side of Manchester.
Written by Jennifer McCord