Former Manchester United defender Jonny Evans has revealed how the squad were “shocked” when Sir Alex Ferguson pulled off the signing of Robin van Persie from rivals Arsenal in 2012.
The Dutchman proved a big hit at Old Trafford, firing 26 goals in 38 league games to play a starring role in United’s Premier League title victory that season.
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Van Persie remains something of a cult hero among Man Utd fans for that campaign alone, with his form afterwards never quite living up to those high standards as the team generally struggled after Ferguson’s retirement.
Still, there’s no doubt this signing was one of Fergie’s final masterstrokes, and Evans told the Guardian just how much it surprised the rest of the team.
“It was a genius signing, to get someone from one of your rival clubs, where he’d been [for so long] – everyone was shocked,” the defender said.
Evans went on to explain how RVP was like a manager’s dream with the moments of quality he brought to the side, and his intelligent play.
“We’d been working in training on trying to get Ashley Young running in between the right-back and right centre-back.
“Football in England changed with that Southampton team of 2013-14, there is no other team that had as big an impact in changing the mindset” – Which manager said this? Click here to read more.
“There was a moment where Robin caught everyone out and tried a reverse pass with his right foot, into Ashley’s path. Branislav Ivanovic ended up getting sent off for being the last player [when fouling].
“To be able to carry out this kind of plan made Robin the manager’s dream. There are other moments that stand out, too. His goal against Arsenal in his first game against them at Old Trafford – he did so with his [supposedly weaker] right, and you think: ‘This guy can score.’”
We’re sure many MUFC fans would agree with the Northern Irishman’s assessment of Van Persie’s tremendous impact at Old Trafford.