Robin Van Persie Should Be Player Of The Year Ahead Of Luis Suárez

Van Persie Shows Why He Should Be Player Of The Year

In The Matrix, Keanu Reeves's Neo is given the choice between the red pill or the blue pill and opts for the former to become "the One". Robin van Persie also chose red over blue and was the one to clinch Manchester United's 20th English title on Monday night.

Old Trafford aptly plays the Stone Roses's This Is The One ahead of kick-off and Van Persie, starved of success for eight years, intensified his love affair with United fans with a brilliant hat-trick against Aston Villa.

The timing, on a personal and collective level, was as perfect as the Dutchman's audaciously awesome volley. A day after Luis Suárez attempted to take a chunk out of Branislav Ivanović and his reputation, Van Persie raced ahead of him in the scoring charts.

On a footballing basis, Suárez has arguably enjoyed a superior individual campaign than Van Persie. His ingenuity has saved Liverpool from their slide towards mid-table mediocrity and offered hope for an auspicious future under Brendan Rodgers. But awards are not handed out on quality alone, and the Uruguayan's charmless and classless attitude, reaffirmed by 'Bitegate', will almost certainly cost him the PFA Player of the Year award on Sunday.

Triple 20: Van Persie scored his second United hat-trick against Villa

Van Persie was more deserving of the accolade before his second United treble against Aston Villa, for rarely has a player had such a big say in the destination of the Premier League title. Van Persie rejected an eye-watering £300,000 a week offer from Manchester City to listen to "the little boy inside me" and join United instead. City's top scorer, Carlos Tévez, has 17 goals - 10 fewer than Van Persie - whose goals have earned United 20 points. That number again.

He may have declined the "blue pill", but Van Persie lingers at City like the Grim Reaper. Roberto Mancini has often lamented his decision to sign for United at press conferences, blaming "Marwood" off the pitch while struggling to find the right combination in attack on it. He belatedly ran out of patience with Mario Balotelli, Sergio Agüero has been beset by knee and hamstring injuries while Edin Džeko only appears to be a reliable option when coming off the bench.

Van Persie also struck United's defining moment of their latest title win. His stoppage-time winner in the December derby felt significant, but since it came in before Christmas it was inappropriate to bracket it with Steve Bruce's header against Sheffield Wednesday and the like. Yet it took United five points clear of their city adversaries, and their blue neighbours have not got any closer since.

War games: Van Persie celebrates his winner at the Etihad Stadium

So instant has Van Persie's impact been that Wayne Rooney is now a peripheral, rather than pivotal, figure at Old Trafford. He was substituted again during the Villa win and his body language during the celebrations at times looked reflective and regretful. The damning reality for him is any chances of fulfilling his prodigious promise at Everton are now gone, and Van Persie is now the "big man" Rooney once championed himself as with England.

The irony of Van Persie's volley past Brad Guzan was he spurned far easier chances in United's ejections from the Champions League and FA Cup. His spring dip, in which he scored just once in 13 games, coincided with United downgrading to a more pragmatic style, whereas in the first half of the campaign they played some of the most exciting football of the Sir Alex Ferguson era.

Paradoxically, although Van Persie is deserving of the PFA award for how he has effected the Premier League, he is perhaps not as worthy a winner of the United accolade. Michael Carrick, consistently brilliant, has superbly masked the team's midfield malaise and recognition has come not just from supporters but Roy Hodgson, the first England coach to belatedly recognise his usefulness.

Carrick may no longer be unsung, but the season belongs to Van Persie, whose second goal last night rivalled his greatest Arsenal volleys against Charlton and Everton. He's the one for United and Ferguson.


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