Van Persie ready to show Mancini exactly what he missed out on
"Anything can happen in the transfer market," Roberto Mancini said. "You want to buy one player, but it's difficult because the player makes another decision. Now we can't change this..."
You could just about make out the faint residual desolation Mancini still feels about Robin van Persie's decision to reject Manchester City this summer and sign for United instead.
It damaged City twice over, of course, adding to United as much as it took away from the notional side Mancini had it all planned out in his mind to defend the league title. When all the tactics and arguments are stripped out, the Dutchman simply contributes those individual moments that can prove the difference between triumph and disaster.
"Players like him, world-class players, can be the difference," Ryan Giggs reflected after a United side minus Van Persie had lacked the killer touch to beat Cluj.
City feels like the less joyful of the Manchester clubs heading into tomorrow's derby, but that would almost certainly not be the case but for Van Persie. Free of the injuries which prevented all but the 2011-12 campaign being truly great for him at Arsenal, he has scored in seven of the 11 games this season in which United have fallen behind. The word "saviour" doesn't feel like hyperbole.
Van Persie is the kind of individual who seizes and flourishes on the simple things. "It is not really work, it is my hobby, I love football, but everyone has been so nice to me and I have been having the time of my life," he said.
Van Persie was not interrogated on why he chose United over City, though since Mancini was offering more money, it is safe to surmise the certainty of how often he would start games this season came into it.
Van Persie also spoke of the "calmness" about his new team-mate, Wayne Rooney. He exuded the persona of a man immersed in his club and with a mind uncluttered by anything which might come between him and a major performance tomorrow.
"We can come back," he said, managing the gymnastic feat of turning United's propensity for failing behind in games into a positive. "We can score in any minute of the game, from any angle. So, whatever happens on Sunday – or in any games – everyone knows and realises that we can always come back and always bounce back, even when we're 2-0 down."
The perfectly reasonable question of whether Van Persie knows what a Manchester derby actually entailed seemed almost unnecessary by the time he had answered it.
"This is two Manchester teams in one city – one is called United and the other is called City and that's it. They are the only teams. So, it is the only derby and the biggest derby."
© Independent News Service)