Robin van Persie in action for United in 2012/13.

The story of the 2012/13 Premier League title

Sir Alex Ferguson’s 13th and final league title as Manchester United manager will go down in history as one of the Scotsman’s sweetest triumphs – and the man from Govan deserved more credit than anyone for orchestrating the Reds’ stunning assault on the Premier League.

Our unprecedented 20th title is remembered largely for the impact made by Robin van Persie, who joined in the summer of 2012 in a shock move from Arsenal.
 
But it was the boss who had made the decision to swoop for the striker, and it was Ferguson again who was the driving force behind United’s relentless hunt for points throughout the campaign.
 
The result? The title reclaimed with four matches to spare, and a whopping gap of 11 points separating us from second-placed Manchester City come the final reckoning.

2012/13 PL GoalsVideo

At the time, United’s domestic dominance had been temporarily usurped by our cross-town rivals Manchester City, who had prised the title from our grasp on the final day of the preceding season via a narrow victory over 10-man Queens Park Rangers.
 
Both teams had finished level on points, but City boasted the superior goal difference. It was a painful way to lose the championship, and Ferguson knew the entire club needed a boost.
 
Enter van Persie.
An opening-day defeat away to David Moyes’s Everton was the worst possible start, but in our new no.20’s first start for the club, at home to Fulham, he fired home a sublime strike within 10 minutes.
 
It was the beginning of what would prove a sensational debut season, that would see him reach 30 goals in all competitions – the best debut campaign since Ruud van Nistelrooy in 2001/02.
 
That eventual 3-2 victory over Fulham started another theme: United’s ability to come from behind.
 
Damien Duff had opened the scoring at Old Trafford that day, but the Reds responded to claim all three points. Incredibly, before the turn of the year, Ferguson’s hungry side had already overturned eight games in their favour after going a goal or more down.
The players celebrate after receiving the trophy in Ferguson's final home match against Swansea.
At Southampton, a van Persie hat-trick did the business. At Liverpool, his late penalty ensured Steven Gerrard’s opening goal would count for nothing.
 
Just as important were successes against key rivals. Chelsea, Arsenal and City were all fleeced for points before Christmas, with the former Gunners star scoring in each match – most memorably with a late free-kick in the Manchester derby which deliciously flicked off his former team-mate Samir Nasri and past the hapless Joe Hart.
 
By New Year’s Day, following a 4-0 demolition of Wigan, the Reds were seven points clear of City, and our lightning-hot new acquisition had 16 league goals.

Van Persie's free-kick at CityVideo

It was as if the misery of 2011/12 had inspired a sheer desperation to avoid a nerve-jangling close to the season, such was United’s determination to win each weekend. The consistent performances of key unsung personnel like Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra evinced a team determined to wring every last drop from its competitive instincts.
 
When City lost 3-1 at Southampton in February, and the Reds beat Everton 2-0 the following day, the gap between the champions and the champions-elect was a mammoth 12 points. In effect, the title was all but over.
 
City managed to record a derby victory when the sides met in M16 in April, but it was mere consolation.
 
Fittingly, the season was put to bed by van Persie in April, via a rapid first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa at Old Trafford that sent Ferguson’s men 16 points clear and confirmed them as champions.
 
The great man would announce his retirement within weeks, though there was still time for an appropriately unique 5-5 draw against West Brom in his 1500th and final match as United manager..
 
Inevitably, he would bow out as a winner. After a comprehensive title bid that was almost entirely hewn from his own cast-iron desire to triumph above all others, it seemed only fair.
 
TOP 5 APPEARANCE-MAKERS
 
Robin van Persie: 38
Michael Carrick: 36
Patrice Evra: 34
Antonio Valencia: 30
David De Gea: 28

Van Persie's iconic volley v Aston VillaVideo

TOP 5 GOALSCORERS
 
Robin van Persie: 26
Wayne Rooney: 12
Javier Hernandez: 10
Shinji Kagawa: 6
Patrice Evra: 4
 
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
 
Unsurprisingly, Robin van Persie dominated at the end-of-season awards, but he was edged out in the Players’ Player of the Year category by Michael Carrick, who was deservedly singled out for recognition by his team-mates for a superbly consistent season. However, van Persie won the showpiece Sir Matt Busby Player of the Year award, voted for by the fans, along with the Goal-of-the-Season prize, for his stunning volley against Aston Villa.
 
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