When United secure the signing of the 29-year-old Dutchman, the effectively bought the title. They paid a reported £24.5 million to Arsenal for his services and what a service he provided; he has almost delivered them the Premier League title.
I say almost because United are currently 12 ahead of Manchester City with 7 games left to play in the league. However, their defeat at Old Trafford to City on Monday night, in which Van Persie failed to score, is now their second defeat on the bounce after their FA Cup exit at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge last week.
The Dutchman has scored an incredible 23 goals for United across all competitions and is the English top tier’s second top goal scorer behind Liverpool’s Luis Suarez.
United manager Sir Alex Ferguson has dismissed the suggestion that Van Persie’s current form, or lack thereof, is anything to be concerned about and, I must admit, my thought process on the matter had been that all strikers go through a baron patch and he’d come good again soon enough.
But 10 games is quite a drought. I wouldn’t be much of an issue if he’d been influential to goals scored by others or if he’d just not been getting the chances but he’s had an abundance of decent, good and very good opportunities to score.
He’s either skied it, dragged it wide, misfired, or, more generally, just missed – and United have missed him, more crucially. Where his world-class touch and finishing has gone is anyone’s guess. It’s deserted him for a couple of months, that’s for sure.
Whilst Wayne Rooney has scored 13 in 17 appearances, United probably don’t have too much to worry about with regard to the title, which, I must admit, I’ve been writing into history as a foregone conclusion for weeks now.
But, and it’s a bit but, what if his form doesn’t improve and, more importantly, what if United’s Manchester derby defeat at Old Trafford to City knocks the team’s confidence, belief and morale enough to see them not a win a couple of games?
It’s purely conjecture and theoretical, I understand, but next game is at Stoke who, up until recently, weren’t giving much away at home. They’re still, in my humble opinion, one of the toughest sides to break down in the country. They don’t tend to concede a lot of goals and, to compound that, they are now ever so slightly involved in a relegation battle.
If United emerge with 3 points from the Britannia next Sunday, there won’t be much cause for concern but if they don’t and Van Persie doesn’t score, I would expect Sir Alex Ferguson to have some major cause for concern.
Robin van Persie has put them where they are and without his goals, it doesn’t even bear thinking about where they might end up. That’s a lot of pressure for a striker who’s gone 10 games without a goal.
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