Andy Gray Column: Sir Alex’s flutter on Robin van Persie has given Manchester United treble-winning potential

By Mancunian Matters staff

Robin van Persie may have cost a lot of money but I don’t think you’ll ever find Sir Alex Ferguson saying it wasn’t a gamble worth taking because he is a major reason why Manchester United are sitting where they are in the league.

Van Persie knew he was going to one of two clubs – and he definitely knew he was going to Manchester.

The only thing he didn’t know was which part of the city he was going to, because both United and City were very keen on having him.

For many months City thought they did have him but the deal didn’t go through and it allowed Fergie to sneak in there and steal Van Persie from under the nose of Roberto Mancini.

He’s been absolutely sensational. You just cannot argue with Van Persie’s turnaround of goals. Sometimes you go to United and even if you’re a great player you can struggle to find your feet.

But Fergie’s gone and told Van Persie he’s his number nine, so to speak, and told him to get up there and score the goals they need to win the league.

Van Persie hasn’t let him down with 16 league goals already this season. That is a phenomenal return for someone who hasn’t even started every game.

But it’s not just Van Persie. United have now got what Fergie always said was the key to the 1999 treble win with four strikers of real quality.

At any time he could play any two of Andy Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. He felt they all had goals in them.

And I think he feels that for the first time since then he’s got those resources again – with Danny Welbeck, Wayne Rooney, Javier Hernandez and Van Persie.

He feels two of those are good enough to play for United at any time, and he’s not had that sort of quality at the top end of the pitch for a while.

But he’s got it now. After a great first season Hernandez had a few little injuries in his second season that set him back a bit. It took him a while to recover and find his form.

But there’s absolutely no doubt the boy is sharp and Fergie must be looking at him in particular and thinking he has been a handful so far this season.

It means Fergie can take his time with Rooney and not rush him back, to make sure he’s fit. And he knows he’s got Welbeck there if he has to play him as well.

United are well-placed for the title with their striking options, and Yaya Toure’s absence from Manchester City for the Africa Cup of Nations could swing it in their favour.

But then it’s up to the other players that are left here to step up. Yes they will miss the big man, and he is a massively important player for them who can turn games on his own, but City have hundreds of millions of pounds worth of talent in their squad.

The players need to show the fans that losing one player is no big deal. Loads of other teams are going to lose players for the tournament.

All it means is City have to accept his absence, get on with the games and win them. That would be the best answer – just show everyone that it hasn’t affected them.

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