Premier League

RvP can't wait for trophy joy

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Mon, 06 May 2013 12:03:00

Juventus coach Antonio Conte was ecstatic after watching his side retain their Serie A crown with three games to spare.

The Bianconeri ensured back-to-back Scudettos following a 1-0 home win over Palermo, which took them 11 points clear of second-placed Napoli with three matches remaining.

A point was all Conte's men needed but they claimed all three yesterday thanks to Arturo Vidal's 59th-minute penalty.

"I'm happy, satisfied but above all proud of these extraordinary lads. I'd like to thank the players, the club for bringing them in and all the backroom staff for their great work," said Conte on the club's official website.

"It wasn't easy for us to reclaim our title this year. Starting out as favourites doesn't do you any favours and we knew that the Champions League would take it out of us on a physical level.

"However, we've had a triumphant charge to the title, sealing the achievement with three games to spare."

Conte looked set to be absent for the dugout for all of this season after receiving a 10-month suspension for failing to report attempted match-fixing by players during his tenure at Siena in the 2010-11 season.

The punishment was later reduced to four months on appeal, with technical director Massimo Carrera forced to assume interim control of the Italian champions on matchdays.

But after guiding Juventus to their 29th domestic title, Conte is keen to extend his stay in Turin.

"I'm absolutely fine where I am, I'm where I hoped to be," he added.

"I dreamt of returning and winning here and that's precisely what has happened. I'm in the right place.

"We've achieved extraordinary things over the past few years, but you always need to raise the bar in football, taking into account the economic difficulties that Italian football is experiencing."

Robin van Persie cannot wait to get his hands on the Premier League trophy.

By the time Manchester United receive their prize following next Sunday's final home game against Swansea, it will be three weeks since the victory over Aston Villa that clinched the success.

That Van Persie scored a hat-trick that night is fitting given the 29-year-old's contribution has been widely acknowledged as the key to United's 20th championship.

For a player who left Arsenal to compete for major honours rather than a battle to retain a place in the top four, it means next weekend cannot come quickly enough.

"It is the feeling you dream of," van Persie told United Review. "Everything is about lifting the trophy.

"There were some great pictures taken after the Aston Villa game, but there was one thing missing from them all; the trophy.

"That's the picture that will be framed in my house; me, lifting the Barclays Premier League trophy. I can't wait for that moment."

It did seem something of a gamble for both player and club to make such a significant switch last summer.

However, it did not take van Persie, nor manager Sir Alex Ferguson, long to realise they had made exactly the right move.

"I wouldn't have moved if I'd had doubts," he said. "Instead, from day one I was almost certain we would win trophies - not in a couple of years but this year.

"I saw the players in training. I saw the way they behaved, the way they lived, their mentality, the way the staff worked, the way the manager and the staff acted.

"When all those elements combine you end up with a team of champions.

"It also helps when you have so many players who know how to win."

The triumph for league honours ends a quest that began at Feyenoord, when Van Persie was an 18-year-old and started the Dutch outfit's UEFA Cup final win over Borussia Dortmund.

"As a youth player I was used to winning trophies, right through from Under-12s to Under-18s," he said. "Won won the UEFA Cup at Feyenoord three months after I started and I remember thinking 'Okay, this will happen every year'. But I've realised it is not that simple.

"I had to wait a long time to be a champion but it tastes lovely. I feel like I am floating on a cloud."

Van Persie missed out to Gareth Bale in the voting for the PFA and FWA awards which he collected last season.

As consolation it seems certain Van Persie will end up with the Premier League Golden Boot for the second year running.

Although Bale has an extra game to play, he is presently five adrift of Van Persie's 25 goals, with Luis Suarez now out of the race due to his 10-game suspension.

Not that van Persie regards the Golden Boot prize as a personal honour anyway.

"In a way, it is not an honest award," he said. "Even if you end up with the most goals in a season, those goals are the team's goals and many will have been made possible by other players.

"They should make a Golden Boot for the whole team.

"It would be nice (to win it), but the main thing for me was to win the league.

"Even if I'd scored half the number of goals and we'd won the league I would still have been happy."

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