Manchester United legend Sammy McIlroy has hailed the signing of Robin van Persie as key to the club’s 20th top flight title.
The majestic Dutchman notched a first-half hat-trick against Aston Villa on Monday to ensure United wrapped up the title with four games to spare.
His three-goal salvo – the second of which was a glorious first-time volley from the edge of the box – took him to 24 league strikes for the season and ahead of Liverpool’s Luis Suarez, who may have played his last game of the campaign after biting Branislav Ivanovic.
And this might not be the last honour for Van Persie this season, having been nominated for the PFA and Footballer of the Year awards.
“It was fitting that United should wrap up the title up with a Van Persie hat-trick. There is no doubt that he has made the difference this season,” said McIlroy, who played 342 games for United between 1971 and 1982.
“Losing the title in the final minute of last season to their fierce rivals Manchester City was a real killer blow, but all credit to Sir Alex (Ferguson) who vowed that it would never happen again.
“He knew that if Van Persie stayed fit this season then he would score the goals to bring the title back to Old Trafford.
“There were a lot of critics when Sir Alex took the bold decision to spend 25 million pounds on someone who was nearly 30 years of age and there was concern that he was putting all his eggs in one basket.
“A first league championship medal and top scorer in the Premier League is vindication for Sir Alex and Van Persie.”
“His second goal against Villa summed up his contribution this season. It was simply world-class and he couldn’t have picked a better stage to get it.”