Manchester United have won their 20th league title and 13th Premier League trophy with four games to spare after defeating Aston Villa 3-0 on Monday night.
Courtesy of a first-half hat trick from Robin van Persie, the Red Devils were able to post their 27th win of the domestic season and win back the Premier League trophy from rivals Manchester City, whose loss to Tottenham Hotspur earlier on the weekend had allowed United to clinch the league this weekend at Old Trafford.
The win takes United even closer to breaking Chelsea’s record in 2005 and 2006 of 29 league wins in a single season, with the Red Devils currently on 27 wins. They also still have a chance to break the Blues’ mark of 95 points in a single season.
United were ahead within minutes against a weak Aston Villa side. Wayne Rooney, deployed in midfield pinged a wonderful ball out to a resurgent Antonio Valencia. He found Rafael who swung it in high for Giggs to lay it across to an unmarked RVP who applied the easiest of finishes.
The second was all but easy. Rooney, who started like a house on fire found another wonderful pass. He played it to the left off the furthest CB cross field. It dropped over RVP who had made a lovely run. The left foot swung with perfect technique and found the bottom right corner. Perhaps the goal of the season. Incredible!
And he finished the scoring with a hat trick in the first half. Ryan Giggs was put through by the impressive Shinji Kagawa. The Welshman was one on one but found Robin Van Persie who had to make space before firing into the roof of the net.
Sir Alex Ferguson attributed United’s 20th league title to the steely focus within his squad.
Having missed out on the title in such dramatic circumstances last term, the Reds bounced back in record-breaking fashion and mercilessly marched to glory this time around – demonstrating the character of champions for all to see.
“The players’ focus was fantastic this season,” Sir Alex said. “They didn’t get themselves annoyed by what happened last season. A lot of teams – most teams in the country – would have melted. But not this bunch.
“They went on and did what Manchester United expects of them and raised the bar. You could go on and on and on about losing a title, and we’ve had to do that in my time. I think our consistency for the last 20 years has been unbelievable. It’s been a marvellous performance. We’ve got 84 points with four games left – fantastic.
“The one thing I said to them at the start of the season was: ‘Make sure you do not lose on goal difference again’. Last season was the first time we’ve ever lost on goal difference. We’ve always had a superior goal difference to all our opponents. That was the point where I realised that was the challenge: our goal difference must be better than theirs across the road.”
Detractors continue to insist that the manager’s latest batch of champions does not stand comparison with its illustrious forebears, but Sir Alex gives short shrift to such a notion and insists that his squad has a bright future ahead of them.
“I think it’s dead easy to say that,” he shrugged. “Nostalgia plays tricks on people’s minds, without doubt. You do it yourself. How many times have you said: ‘Ah, when I was a boy, things weren’t the same’?
“Put it in context: we’ve now got 84 points with four games left and we’ve never done that. We’ve won most of our games, drawn three, lost four and the goal [van Persie’s second] tonight… it doesn’t matter where you place that in terms of all the great goals we’ve scored, from David Beckham, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Eric Cantona…
“That pedestal is there, the players have joined that pedestal. We’ve got some young, exciting players – you’ve seen how De Gea’s improved over the season into an outstanding goalkeeper, young Rafa, you saw Jones tonight… arguably the way he’s looking, he could be our best ever player.”
The headlines, however, belonged to a more established United star. Having scored the goals that propelled the Reds’ early charge for the title, as well as the brilliant hat-trick which sealed it, Robin van Persie inevitably drew plaudits from his manager.
“Robin’s been unbelievable,” said Sir Alex. “He had that dry spell where he hadn’t scored for a few weeks but the penalty kick at Stoke brought it back. He was unbelievable tonight, unbelievable. Fantastic.
“He has to take a lot of the credit – his goals tell you that and his performance levels tell you that. I’m sure Robin would be saying what a great bunch of players I’ve got with me – they’re a great bunch of players.”
Robin Van Persie’s Reaction on winning his first Premier League title:
“I had to wait so long for my first title. It is a great feeling,” he said.
“This is a fantastic team and fantastic players. It is a championship for every single one of them. The staff, the managers, the physios.
“This is our 20th title, it is deserved.”
Patrice Evra post-match reaction:
“It is unbelievable,” said Evra.
“It was really important to get back that trophy because I remember last year when we lost and people said Manchester City would take control.
“I said then that when Manchester United got back their consistency they would finish 10 points clear, I was wrong because now it is 16.”
The 39-year-old has now won his 13th title with the club, and he said: “Everyone is special because you work hard in the season and especially after the disappointment of last year.
“Nights like this one drive us. You want to feel like you do now, you want to see Old Trafford bouncing and that is what spurs me on.
“I am lucky enough to have played under the greatest manager that has ever lived and he drives everyone on. I just want to go on as long as I am enjoying it.”
“We won this game in the first half and it is a fantastic night for us.
“When you lose the title, it is hard to take. It wasn’t a nice feeling last time. We have all dug in deep and done fantastic to put ourselves in this position.
“You can never take anything for granted in football and thankfully it is now done. The manager has great desire and a winning mentality. We all buy into that and want to do well for the club.
“It has been a great season for me. We have won the league title, that is what you play for.”
“The league wasn’t won [on Monday night], it was won all season with all the work we have put in.”