x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Robin van Persie gives Ferguson an attack to rival his 1999 one

The Manchester United manager believes he now has a forward line to match his classic four from the treble winning season.

Robin van Persie, right, in action for Arsenal against Manchester United last season, will wear United colours this season.
Robin van Persie, right, in action for Arsenal against Manchester United last season, will wear United colours this season.

Sir Alex Ferguson, the Manchester United manager, said the signing of Robin van Persie has given him a strike force to rival the quartet that propelled the club to a treble in 1999.

United have agreed a fee of around £24 million (Dh138m) to sign Van Persie from Arsenal and the Dutch forward was in Manchester yesterday for a medical and discussions over his personal terms.

Ferguson said yesterday that he is confident the striker will be available to make his debut in United's opening game of the season against Everton on Monday night.

Van Persie scored 37 goals in all competitions last season, winning both the players' and football writers' player of the year awards, and Ferguson expects the 29 year old to provide a significant boost to United's bid to regain the Premier League title.

United finished without a trophy last season for the first time since 2005 after Manchester City won the title with two goals in stoppage-time on the final day of the season.

That painful near-miss still rankles with Ferguson and, after beating City in the race to sign Van Persie, he cannot wait to unleash an attacking quartet that reminds him of the group that fired United to treble glory in 1999.

Then it was Andrew Cole, Dwight Yorke, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer who delivered the goals, and Ferguson believes Van Persie and Wayne Rooney, with support from Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez, can be equally deadly.

"Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie are two fantastic players and it will be great to have both of them," he said. "It gives us more strength and more combinations up front.

"In 1999 I had Dwight Yorke, Andy Cole, Teddy Sheringham and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the four best strikers in Europe.

"We are going towards that now with Javier Hernandez, Wayne Rooney, Robin, Danny Welbeck and Shinji Kagawa.

"It is a fantastic collection of players and hopefully I pick the right combinations.

"It is great to have a player of Robin van Persie's qualities to come into the squad. I am very pleased."

Rio Ferdinand, the United centre-back, knows the team will be under pressure to recover the title from City's grasp.

"Last season was disappointing for us because we didn't win the league," he said.

"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."

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick, the United midfielder, has said he is committed to make himself available to playing for England in the future.

Carrick played his first international game since May 2010 for his country when he played in England's 2-1 friendly win over Italy on Wednesday night.

He said: "Now I am happy, and I am more than happy to be here. I spoke with the manager (Roy Hodgson) and what has gone on in the past, we have drawn a line under that."

* Agencies

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