Robin van Persie opens up on mental toughness of last Manchester United team to be champions

Former Manchester United striker Robin van Persie has opened up on the mental and physical toughness he and his teammates needed to win the Premier League title during the 2012/13 season. The Dutchman signed for the Old Trafford club from Arsenal for £24 million, according to the BBC, which was worth every penny. The player was the clubs top scorer, winning the golden boot in the Premier League as well as being the catalyst to United lifting the league title, their 13th Premier League title and 20th league title in the history of the club.

During the 2012/13 season, Van Persie scored 30 goals in all competitions including 26 scored in the Premier League as United romped to the title, securing it with a 3-0 victory over Aston Villa on the 22 April 2013 with the Dutchman scoring a hat-trick. The 36-year-old has recalled a chat with former teammate and current coach at United, Michael Carrick following United’s 3-2 victory over Manchester City at the Etihad in which Van Persie scored a late winner. Speaking to the official Manchester United website, Van Persie said:

“I was talking with Carrick after the game and he said if you start to win these type of games, we have a very good chance of winning this year.

“That is what I felt during that whole first season: everyone was so relaxed and confident. We went behind in 16 different games in the league and we still won by 11 points.”

Van Persie then went into detail about the qualities he and his teammates needed to ensure they wrestled the Premier League title from Manchester City, after losing out on goal difference during the 2011/12 season after Sergio Aguero scored that goal against Queens Park Rangers to end United’s hopes of a 20th league title that season. If United are to add to their league title haul under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, his squad will need to have similar characteristics, which is something that the Norwegian will understand, having been part of United’s treble winning team during the 1998/99 season with United lifting the Premier League, the FA Cup and the UEFA Champions League trophies. Van Persie concluded by saying:

“The toughness of everyone, physically and mentally: I was impressed at the level.

“In training sessions they were tough on each other, but everyone was okay with it. They were just cracking on and dealing with injuries, setbacks and defeats.

“There was a calmness, in combination with the characters and staff we had. There was some kind of arrogance floating around everyone: we got this, whatever happens, we got it.”

The Dutchman spent three seasons at United and after that first season, the magic soon drained away after Sir Alex Ferguson retired. The legendary Scottish manager was one of the reasons why Van Persie signed for United. In his time at the club, he made a total of 105 appearances, scoring 58 goals and 21 assists. He left in the summer of 2015 for Turkish side Fenerbahce who paid just £3.84 million for the player, which was a pittance considering what was still left in his locker. At United, Van Persie won the Premier League and the FA Community Shield, winning the FA Cup at Arsenal, leaving because he did not think Arsenal could challenge for the league title, which was even better when his former club gave him the guard of honour.

Written by John Walker

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I support Manchester United, the greatest English football team to have ever existed. Bruno Fernandes is the latest in a long line of players with great ability to play for the club. I idolised Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Paul Scholes, and Eric Cantona growing up.