FOOTBALL NEWS

05/10/2012 22:30, Report by James Tuck
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Robin work paying off

Robin van Persie has made a commanding start to his Manchester United career, but the striker is still putting in the hard yards behind the scenes.

Far from resting on his laurels, the Dutchman is working hard at Carrington to make up for missing nearly all of Arsenal’s pre-season campaign before he joined the Reds. And his endeavours have not gone unnoticed.

"The refreshing thing for me is he’s doing extra work in training because he’s not had any pre-season games," said Sir Alex Ferguson at his Friday press conference.

"It’s quite remarkable considering he’s got seven goals in [his last] seven games. I’m pleased with that and I think his fitness will improve even more.

"He’s a good passer of the ball with good vision in his passing, too. The goal he made last week for [Shinji] Kagawa against Tottenham is evidence of his passing ability."

Van Persie hit 37 goals for the Gunners last season and Sir Alex was asked if it was possible the 29-year-old could emulate that tally in his maiden campaign with the Reds.

"I would love that to happen," the boss said. "In my experience, and where we are at the moment, we need two strikers to get over 20 goals. If we get that, we definitely have a chance."

United fans enjoyed the sight of van Persie starting alongside a deep-lying Wayne Rooney for the first time in Tuesday’s Champions League win over CFR Cluj.

Sir Alex explained that he opted for the duo in an intriguing three-pronged forward line that also featured Javier Hernandez to combat Cluj’s threat on the counter-attack.

"For the last couple of years, Wayne has played a lot in behind one striker," he said. "But Cluj are a useful side who rely on the counter-attack, so we tried to avoid that as much as we could.

"In fact, their goal was from a counter-attack, but we tried to force them onto us so we could counter-attack ourselves.

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