59 goals in two seasons. 48 of them in the toughest league of them all. Some tap-ins, some unmarked headers, some opportunistic ones and some outrageously brilliant ones. And while all these goals were being scored, I dare say, he was carrying the ambitions of a huge club on his broad shoulders. For a good 18 months, he could do no wrong. Join all these dots together, and you get an extremely classy player who goes by the name of Robin Van Persie. Surely, any team would want him right now.
Now that Manchester United are very close to landing him, let me tell you exactly why they could very well do without him.
Let’s do a little rewind. Community Shield, 2011. Manchester United vs Manchester City. City lead 2-0 at half time. The second half starts and there is a marked change in the United game. Their two frontmen, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck start exchanging passes and flicks as if this is a training session. By the time Welbeck is substituted in the 89th minute, it’s 2-2. Nani would latch on to a Kompany mistake and score the winner for United in the 94th minute. The season started in a week. West Brom were beaten 2-1. Tottenham were thrashed 3-0. Arsenal were murdered 8-2. Welbeck pulled a hamstring halfway into the Arsenal game, and was ruled out for a month. He came back and shone again. All through the injury-ravaged season, there was one sparkling feature that kept United going : the combination play between Rooney and Welbeck. United’s talisman seemed to loving the company of the 21-year old youth product upfront.
There were umpteen flashes of brilliance from Welbeck which created chances for his more illustrious strike partner. Two days before this article was written, our man signed a 5-year contract extension. His confidence must’ve touched the sky. Think of how hard the same confidence will be hit when he finds himself making substitute appearances if Van Persie does make his move to Old Trafford. With wingers of the calibre of Valencia, Young and Nani, Sir Alex wouldn’t even think of playing three strikers. 4-4-2 it was, 4-4-2 it will be. With Kagawa’s addition, maybe a 4-2-3-1, but certainly no 4-3-3 with Rooney and RVP operating wide and Welbeck playing centrally. A season like that, and the gaffer goes for a goal-scoring colossus. If it doesn’t mess with your head, either you’re inhuman or you idolize Kimi Raikonnen/Rahul Dravid. Looks like we’re done. No, wait. Javier Hernandez. Dimitar Berbatov. They were the 3rd and 4th choice strikers last season, respectively. If RVP comes, it makes them 4th and 5th choice. Shocking, when you consider that both of them scored 20+ goals the last time they got 40+ games in a season. Oh and in case you didn’t already know, Sir Alex has signed a Chilean striker called Angelo Henriquez. How many strikers does that make, again?
There is no doubting the Dutchman’s class and ability. He has safely put himself as one of the best front-men in the world today. What it doesn’t necessarily mean is that a club with 4 top-class strikers needs to bid for him. I agree, it’s very easy to sit on your desk, listen to Shine On You Crazy Diamond and write a blog questioning the decisions of a man who’s managed a club for 25 years. On the other hand, it’s also easy to say ‘Fergie knows best. We should just be patient and trust him.’
As an unbiased fan of the game, I’d like to believe everyone makes mistakes. Even the best of them. Jaap Stam. David Beckham. Carlos Tevez. Robin Van Persie?
I hope the fourth name stays till this post.