SAF: Goals won’t cost us again

Ferguson unveiled Robin van Persie at Old Trafford on Friday

afternoon after the deal to sign the 29-year-old from Arsenal was

rushed through in time for him to face Everton at Goodison Park on

Monday.

The trip to Merseyside represents the first stop on the Red

Devils’ quest to regain their Premier League crown from Manchester

City.

It was a loss famously confirmed by Sergio Aguero’s

stoppage-time winner against QPR, after United had finished their

final match at Sunderland.

And it came through the narrowest of margins, just six

goals.

That damning fact has eaten away at Ferguson throughout the

summer.

It explains why the Scot has abandoned the recent policy of

buying younger talent to pluck Van Persie straight from the top

shelf.

“No matter the years of experience we have had in terms of

winning titles, last year was different,” said Ferguson.

“It was the first time anyone has beaten us on goal

difference.

“It cost us the league and it won’t happen again, trust me on

that.”

Although it seems Arsene Wenger eventually drove a hard bargain,

Ferguson’s delight at signing a player who scored 37 times for

Arsenal last season was understandable.

Six months ago, he did not believe there was a chance Wenger

would let Van Persie join the Old Trafford outfit.

Even when his antennae were raised by Van Persie’s damning

statement confirming an intention not to sign a contract extension

when his current one expired in 2013, there was still the small

matter of Manchester City to overcome.

After all, it was only last summer that Van Persie’s team-mate

Samir Nasri looked bound for Old Trafford, only to abandon that

plan for City’s ambitious, and lucrative project, which quickly

turned him into a league champion.

“We never thought we could get Van Persie,” said Ferguson.

“I thought Arsenal are not going to let him go.

“When I read he had refused a new contract that is when we

acted.

“It has been a long haul and he (Wenger) got a great price – he

could win a poker school in Govan.

“But we are happy the matter is concluded.”

A cynic might suggest Ferguson went for Van Persie because,

having celebrated his 70th birthday, the United boss simply does

not have the time to wait for a new team to emerge as bona-fide

challengers to City.

In Van Persie’s case, the Red Devils are buying the finished

article.

“He is what we have needed for the last couple of years,” said

Ferguson.

“He has maturity in his game. His authority, timing and

understanding of the game is complete.

“I hope we will benefit over the next four years.”

Ferguson could have paid Van Persie no greater compliment than

to use Eric Cantona as the example of an experienced player who

guided youngsters through the formative stages of their

careers.

In Cantona’s case it was the ‘Class of 92’.

For Danny Welbeck, rather than view it as a shattering blow to

his own first-team hopes, Ferguson thinks it is a transfer that

will give him an extra kick.

“You always learn from great players,” said Ferguson.

“Remember what Cantona did for all the young players.

“He was a great teacher for them and Danny will welcome that

too.

“He will learn from playing with Robin and Wayne Rooney.”

After signing Japan midfielder Shinji Kagawa and youngster Nick

Powell from Crewe earlier in the summer, Ferguson declared his

transfer business over.

Earlier, he had told MUTV there was one more specific player he

would be interested in if he became available, without mentioning

who it was.

No-one else will have arrived before that trip to Everton

though, with Ferguson ignoring Roberto Mancini’s claim of United

now being favourites to cite City as the biggest danger to a 20th

league crown.

“We are favourites every week according to him (Mancini),” said

Ferguson.

“Is he ever going to realise he has got a decent team

himself.

“Our biggest threat this season are Manchester City.

“Chelsea have won the European Cup, which is the trophy Roman

Abramovich has been after.

“Now he has got excited again and loosened the purse strings to

sign a few players.

“I am almost certain they will be challenging.

“But I look at Manchester City as our biggest danger.”