Patrice Evra knew from the moment Robin van Persie said sorry at Southampton that Manchester United had signed a class act.
Van Persie’s injury-time free-kick at Manchester City on Sunday repaid another chunk of the £24 million Alex Ferguson invested in the striker last summer.
With 14 goals to his name already, Ferguson’s judgment has already been proved sound, but it was at St Mary’s in August, in the aftermath of a 3-2 win in which van Persie had scored a hat-trick, that Evra discovered the forward’s stamp of class.
“Robin is perfect for Manchester United,” Evra said. “When he scored the hat-trick at Southampton he also missed a penalty.
“The first thing he said when he came back to the dressing room was that he was really sorry for missing the penalty. That shows the hunger, humility and personality he has to win trophies. He is not just scoring for himself. He really wants the team to win something.”
While Ferguson has been effusive about van Persie’s impact, he has tended to keep plaudits for Wayne Rooney to a minimum.
Rooney was alone among the starting line-up at Reading who was required to start the midweek Champions League defeat to Cluj, with Ferguson claiming the 27-year-old needed more games to get his full fitness back after a very brief period on the sidelines with tonsillitis.
If there has been an element of cajoling about Ferguson’s man management, it seems to have worked given Rooney has now scored four times in a week to take his season’s tally to seven.
“A lot of people criticised Wayne at the beginning of the season, asking why he didn’t score so many goals,” Evra said.
“Last week [against Reading] he scored two goals. Today [Sunday] he got two again. He is a really important player for us.”
Rooney has now also followed in the illustrious footsteps of Alan Shearer, Andy Cole, Robbie Fowler, Thierry Henry and Frank Lampard in becoming the sixth player to score 150 Premier League goals.
In addition, he leapfrogged Bobby Charlton in becoming United’s most prolific scorer in Manchester derbies, moving alongside City’s Francis Lee and Joe Hayes on the overall record of 10.
“I didn’t know I was the top United derby scorer but I am proud of that,” Rooney said. “It is a great feeling to score against City.
“There is a lot of passion and pride in Manchester in these games and it has been great for me to score so many.”
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