This week we take trip down memory lane to Ferguson’s last campaign. It was a historic season for United and talisman Robin van Persie. He hit the ground running as United bid to seize the Premier League crown back from cross-town rivals Manchester City. While Rvp’s best match was the hat trick against Aston Villa to clinch the crown, the match against Southampton was another superb example of what Robin brought to United.
It was a classic United comeback. Losing until the 88th minute, the Red Devils powered by a hat trick from the Flying Dutchman stormed back to claim victory in stoppage time.
United started the match well, but fell behind to a Ricky Lambert goal in the 16th minute. United were rocked by Southampton’s pressing and work rate. However, we were not behind for long. Seven minutes later, van Persie took advantage of a defensive error like any striker should and powered the ball through Kelvin David’s legs.
One should expect United to take advantage of this situation and score another, but the Saints’ held firm and the teams went to the break level. Shortly, after the break Southampton pounced on a Patrice Evra error and Morgan Schneiderlin powered home to give the home side the lead.
United could have levelled things up in the 69th minute after van Persie was fouled by the Jos Hooiveld. Van Persie himself stepped up but his chipped shot was easily saved by Davies. Southampton boss Nigel Adkins then made the surprising decision of taking off his three best players in Adam Lallana, Lambert and Jason Puncheon. The move seemed to give United the mental advantage they seemed to lack earlier on. Ferguson and United threw the kitchen sink at the goal and hoped something would fall their way. They got their break when van Persie smashed home the equaliser when the ball came back off the post from a Ferdinand header.
Fergie time followed. Deep into stoppage time, United won the game after van Persie’s glancing header nestled in at the far post breaking Southampton hearts.
It was the first match of the season where Robin van Persie showed his class and proved why he was one of Europe’s deadliest strikers. It was precisely for matches like this why Ferguson brought him from North London.
The match was incidentally Ferguson’s 1000th league game and the match was won in typical Ferguson fashion.
For van Persie it was just the start of a season that would end up being the most prolific debut season at Manchester United. Van Persie’s impact at United can be compared to the one Eric Cantona had back in the 1990s at the start of the United dynasty. This one came at the end of the Ferguson era. Van Persie went on to score 26 league goals and was provider to 8 more. He played a part in all 38 league seasons and started in 25 of them. Not even PFA Team of the Year keeper David de Gea could upstage that record.
The season ended perfectly for both United and van Persie as the former got thier 20th league title while the latter ended with his first Premier League winners’ medal.