Alex Ferguson is ready to party like its 1999 when Robin van Persie joins Manchester United.
The Dutch striker was undergoing a medical this afternoon and, providing he beats the 12 noon registration deadline tomorrow, will go straight into the United squad for Monday’s Premier League trip to Everton.
In addition to sending out a significant message to champions Manchester City, whose manager Roberto Mancini wanted to sign Van Persie from Arsenal himself at the start of the summer, it bolsters United’s attacking options significantly.
Quite apart from the potentially mouthwatering partnership of Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, who scored 72 goals in all competitions between them last term, Ferguson also has England’s Euro 2012 forward Danny Welbeck and Mexico sharp-shooter Javier Hernandez in a four-man strikeforce.
It reminds Ferguson so much of that 1998-99 season, when Andy Cole and Dwight Yorke scored the bulk of the goals, but Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer were the men who found the net in that sensational Champions League comeback against Bayern Munich.
“In 1999 I had Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the four best strikers in Europe,” said Ferguson, who was speaking at the launch of a new partnership between United and online gaming group bwin.
“We are going towards that now.”
In addition, Ferguson also has another new-boy, Shinji Kagawa, who can play in an advanced role, as can Ashley Young, who enjoyed such success in that position for England.
“It is a fantastic collection of players and hopefully I pick the right combinations,” he said.
Van Persie is the man everyone is talking about.
PFA and FWA player of the year last term thanks to an astonishing 37-goal haul, at 29, Van Persie represents Ferguson’s most high-profile purchase since the arrival of Dimitar Berbatov from Tottenham in 2008.
After a three-year period when so many big-name stars have been attracted by the lure of life at Manchester City, it is a statement of intent by the 19-times champions.
And even though the contract is still to be signed, Ferguson could not disguise his delight.
“He has not signed yet,” said the Scot.
“We hope everything gets tied up as we hope and I am sure he will be available on Monday.
“It is great to have a player of Robin van Persie’s qualities to come into the squad. I am very pleased.”
Even one of the players whose place is threatened expressed his delight, with Welbeck keen to welcome Van Persie into the United fold.
“It is a massive boost to the club if Robin van Persie joins us,” he said.
“I am really looking forward to playing with him.”
The transfer does not come without risks.
Van Persie’s injury record is not great and United need the striker to retain his fitness if they are to get the best out of him.
The difficulties Berbatov has had at United, where he will surely now leave, are proof that not every Ferguson signing is a success and there will be some fans who wonder at the purchase given the perceived weaknesses that still exists in midfield.
However, without question, it has restored a sense of pride to Old Trafford, as the Red Devils get ready to try and rip the championship back from City’s grasp.
“Last season was disappointing for us because we didn’t win the league,” said veteran defender Rio Ferdinand.
“Now it is about how we come back. We have shown in the past the mentality of the club and its history is that we always come back stronger.
“We want to give the fans what they expect and be battling at the top of the league.
“The gauntlet has been thrown down time and time again. It is up to us to pull in the right direction.
“We have to step up to the plate and produce. I am sure we will.”