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Lucky 13th for Ferguson

Updated: 2013-04-24 05:34
By Agence France-Presse in Manchester ( China Daily)

 Lucky 13th for Ferguson

Manchester United's Dutch striker Robin van Persie celebrates scoring his team's first goal against Aston Villa during an English Premier League match at Old Trafford in Manchester, northwest England, on Monday. Paul Ellis / Agence France-Presse

Man United claims EPL crown with four rounds to go

Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson claimed Robin van Persie's breathtaking second goal in its title-clinching 3-0 win over Aston Villa proved his side deserves a place in history.

Van Persie lashed home a stunning first-time volley from 20 yards in the 13th minute of Monday's game at Old Trafford as United sank Villa to secure an unprecedented 20th English league title.

The Dutch striker had already opened the scoring after just 83 seconds and he completed his hat-trick before halftime with a composed finish from Ryan Giggs' pass.

Victory gave United an unassailable 16-point lead over second-place Manchester City with four games of the season to spare and brought Ferguson his 13th league title since he joined the club in 1986.

United has sparkled only intermittently this season, prompting accusations it does not merit comparison with some of Ferguson's previous title-winners, but he said goals like Van Persie's showed that was not the case.

"It's dead easy to say that - nostalgia plays tricks on people's minds. You do it yourself. You say, 'Things were not the same as when I was a boy,' but it is nostalgia," he said.

"Put it in context - we've now got 84 points with four games left. We've never done that.

"We've won most of our games, drawn three, lost four, and the goal tonight ... All the great goals we've scored over the years, from David Beckham through Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Eric Cantona, that goal has joined that."

Van Persie's treble took his tally for the season to 24 league goals and Ferguson likened him to French striker Cantona, who inspired the club to end a 26-year wait for the title after arriving from Leeds United in 1992.

"In terms of impact, he has had as big as an impact as anyone I can imagine," the United manager said.

"Cantona was an incredible impact player and I have been very, very lucky I have had some fantastic strikers right through, probably 10 great strikers at the club.

"I think we had an expectation. His performance for Arsenal last year was sensational and I remember (Arsenal manager) Arsene (Wenger) saying to me, 'He's a better player than you think,' when we concluded the deal, and I think he was right."

Ferguson was also surprisingly effusive in his praise of United's 21-year-old centerback Phil Jones, declaring: "You saw Jones tonight. Arguably, the way he is looking, he could be our best-ever player."

The Scot showed less generosity toward City manager Roberto Mancini, who he accused of showing United a lack of recognition by declaring the two title rivals were as strong as each other.

"He's right in one respect - in the games between the two of us there has been nothing in it," Ferguson said.

"But the rest of them (games against other teams), we have been far better. We are a far better team than Manchester City in beating other teams. That's not recognized by him."

Ferguson, 71, has now won 49 senior honors in his 39-year managerial career, but midfielder Giggs says there is no sign of his hunger to succeed being sated.

"His appetite is second to none. Every day at the training ground, he's the first there, his enthusiasm is brilliant and that feeds through the club. He is the club," Giggs said.

(China Daily 04/24/2013 page24)

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