15/08/2012 23:15, Report by Steve Bartram
Blog: How soon is now?
ManUtd.com's Steve Bartram gives his take on the news that United have agreed to sign Arsenal captain, Robin van Persie...
As statements of intent go, it’s a big one.
Robin van Persie. Last season's leading goalscorer in the Barclays Premier League. Arsenal’s captain. A player long-since written off in many quarters as the next player to walk the well-trodden path from the Emirates to the Etihad. Now a United player in-waiting.
For all the column inches recently devoted to the notion, it is still a stunning transfer; one which sends out the resounding message that United are not willing to wait for the future at the cost of the present. That finishing second cannot become a habit. That there can be no repeats of the devastating manner in which last season cut to black.
Back on 13 May, Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad tasted the cruellest form of defeat. Three months on, City’s players go into the new campaign still intoxicated by the purest hit of undiluted joy. Were City to revel in the winning habit and begin stockpiling silverware, it could begin to erode the winning culture built up over the last quarter-century at Old Trafford, and the United manager has broken with tradition in order to head off that possibility at an early juncture.
The Reds’ transfer policy in recent years has been to look to the future, to savour the savings and satisfaction gleaned from grooming potential, rather than buying superstars. Since 2010, Chris Smalling, Chicharito, David De Gea, Phil Jones, Shinji Kagawa and Nick Powell all joined in their teens or early 20s.
The signing of van Persie, however, flies in the face of that mantra. In a year, the Dutchman will be in his fourth decade and there’s already a dusting of snow on the roof, but the silver-topped fox in the box arrives at Old Trafford as an established star, a ready-made goalscorer who has dominated the Premier League.
Desposed as champions, humbled in Europe and the domestic cups last term, Sir Alex takes his side into 2012/13 with a variety of points to prove. His response has been to pimp his attack in its invention and execution. The vision, movement and intelligence of Shinji Kagawa will offer a new