The reigning PFA and FWA Player of the Year arrived from Arsenal with a simple message: “I think this club is a perfect fit for me.” His seamless integration quickly validated that view. Bought to make the difference in big games, the Dutchman bagged the winner at Anfield, scored one and made two at Stamford Bridge, haunted his former club with the opener against the Gunners and conjured an injury-time winner against Manchester City in a blistering first-half of the season.
More than a goalscorer – but a very, very good one – van Persie binded United’s attack together, dropping deep and buying time, fashioning space and generally oozing class with his every move. An instant hit and a headline act in the 2012/13 season, and duly bagged the Fans’ Player of the Year award.
Champagne moment: There have been plenty but, in terms of scale, importance and drama it has to be December’s injury-time winner in the Manchester derby. Samir Nasri’s attempts to hide from the Dutchman’s free-kick added an invaluable deflection to take the ball beyond Joe Hart and van Persie into derby folklore.
Season in three words: Making the difference.