Magnificent Man Utd crowned champions with RVP hat-trick
Robin van Persie scored a contender for goal of the season as United wrapped up the league in style
Manchester United 3 Aston Villa 0. Too easy. Not just the win against Villa but the whole season has been a walk in the park for United, who on Monday night wrapped up the Premier League title with four games to spare. Sixteen points clear of Manchester City and 21 ahead of third-place Arsenal, United have dominated the top flight of English football for most of the season.
And no-one has made more of an impact for the new champions than Robin van Persie. The Dutch master scored all three of United's goals against Villa, including one which left Alex Ferguson open-mouthed in awe. "Goal of the Century!" exclaimed the United manager, perhaps letting the joy of the occasion cloud his judgement. On reflection, Fergie reassessed van Persie's goal, saying: "As far as I'm concerned it's the goal of the season. It was a fantastic strike, great technique, head over the ball - a magnificent strike."
A magnificent strike from a magnificent player in a magnificent team. United's 20th league title – and Ferguson's 13th as manager – was in the bag as early as 83 seconds, the time it took Van Persie to stab home Ryan Giggs' cross. Ten minutes later Old Trafford was on its feet once more when RVP showed why United had paid £24m for him last summer. Rooney's deft long pass was met first time by the left foot of the Dutchman on the edge of the area and Villa keeper Brad Guzan could do nothing as the stunning volley flew into his net. It was a brilliant goal but there was still more to come from Van Persie.
Just after the half hour mark the tireless Giggs teed up the Dutchman who rifled the ball past Guzan for his hat-trick. The strike also took him to 24 league goals, one more than Liverpool striker Luis Suarez.
"I had to wait so long for my first title. It is a great feeling," said Van Persie, who won only the FA Cup during his eight years at Arsenal. "This is a fantastic team and fantastic players. It is a championship for every single one of them."
Though Ferguson joined Van Persie and the rest of the players in a lap of honour at the final whistle, the trophy won't be officially presented to United until they host Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12. In the meantime don't expect United to let up as they target Chelsea's record of 95 points in a Premier League season. The Blues posted the tally under Jose Mourinho in the 2004-05 season and Fergie would like nothing better than to put one over the Special One. Win their remaining four games and United will finish on 96 points.
But on Monday night it was only the here and now that mattered. Deprived of the title on the last day of last season by Manchester City, United used the pain of that experience as motivation for this season. "They focused on the challenge of City and came up trumps," Ferguson said, who was then asked to compare the present squad with their predecessors. "This could arguably be [the best squad]," he replied. "There is a lot of youth and a lot will get better, we expect that."