Early Doors

Van Persie a perfect fit for United

The sneaking suspicion that Robin van Persie and Manchester United might just be perfect for each other was given further credence on Sunday when, on the occasion of Sir Alex Ferguson's 1000th league game as United manager, the Dutch striker contrived to produce an enthralling conclusion that was in the club and Ferguson's very best traditions.

It has been one of the United manager's most familiar refrains through all those 26 years in charge that his team, his club, "like to do things the hard way", and in chipping a woeful attempt at a Panenka penalty at the diving Kelvin Davis when 2-1 down away at Southampton, it certainly seemed as though the £23 million acquisition had carelessly invited a first taste of the hairdryer treatment from his new manager.

But after 88 minutes he swept home an equaliser and, in trademark 'Fergie time', Van Persie struck again after 92 minutes with a gorgeous flicked header - his dramatic intervention securing one of the more memorable, if not most significant, late late shows of Ferguson's long reign. It appears it has taken Van Persie just two-and-a-bit matches to fully buy into the ethos of his new club.

For 20 minutes or so it appeared as though his horribly hit penalty — won after a comically bad challenge from Jos Hooiveld on Van Persie himself that resembled a Skoda rear-ending a Ferrari at a roundabout — would be a smear on his early United career. But when you have the force of character and extreme, undiluted talent to still inspire your side to a win in the dying seconds, Early Doors hopes you can be forgiven a botched attempt to show off a bit.

It's not as if missing a Panenka is integrally worse than failing to score any other kind of penalty: certainly the result is the same, even if the humiliation is a bit more intense.

In any case, such was the remorse and borderline horror displayed by Van Persie in his post-match interview - no doubt imagining how a first b*******g from a manager somewhat less indulgent than the sanguine Frenchman in charge of his previous club — Early Doors suggests it is safe to assume he will not be so reckless in future. He was even embarrassed enough to put forward Paul Scholes as an alternative man of the match following an admittedly impressive 29-minute cameo from his new team-mate.

"I have to say a big thank you to Paul Scholes," he said. "Every single pass he hit was the right one. It was unbelievable. He is man of the match for me. I got a bit of luck with the second goal, and then at the end... I'm very disappointed with the penalty. When that happens at 2-1 down, you can't take a penalty like that. Something went wrong big time."

Eulogising over Scholes and his timeless class? Yep, ED would argue that RVP is pushing all the right buttons at this embryonic stage of his United career. Now he just needs to head innocently down to the Trafford Centre in a green and gold jumper to send his new fans totally head over heels in love with him.

Certainly his early form has made a nasty injury to Wayne Rooney - previously a frighteningly important player for United - look almost incidental. Out of form and distinctly out of shape, the England striker is unlikely to be missed too substantially while he recuperates from the gash he sustained against Fulham.

Indeed, the rather tubby hole he will leave looks like it will be ably filled by the nimbler, classier Dutchman.

It may be too early to draw any firm conclusions about the top scorers' chart in the Premier League - after all Geoff Horsfield once sat proudly atop it at at this stage of the season - but ED would not be surprised to see RVP stay there.

If he carries on like this, with goals flowing and storylines abounding, Van Persie and United will start to look like a match made in heaven.

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The TV crew currently following Liverpool around in order to shoot a fly-on-the-wall documentary might be better served by tweaking the format even at this late stage and going down a 'Search for a Striker' angle.

After a monosyllabic Brendan Rodgers admitted after a toothless performance in a 2-0 home loss to Arsenal that he would not have allowed Andy Carroll to depart on loan had he known the club would be incapable of buying a replacement on transfer deadline day, and Liverpool supporters despaired at the sight of soon-to-be left-back Stewart Downing as the most attacking option on the bench, ED suspects they may well be that desperate.

Get Rodgers surrounded by some notable experts in these types of things - 'Superstar' judge Sporty Spice should do the trick, and she's a Scouser to boot - and convince a parade of desperate free agents to participate in humiliating auditions at Melwood, and we might just have a show.

And, as 'Stop Crying Your Heart Out' builds to a emotional crescendo and Michael, 32, from Cheshire is told "sorry, but you're not what we're looking for", you may just have the televisual moment of the year.

Watch the Baftas roll in, if not the goals...

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QUOTE OF THE DAY: "Yes, it's very likely. There are three teams interested - Manchester City, Chelsea and a Russian team. Falcao has always wanted to play in the Premier League. Ever since he was a boy he has loved Chelsea and has always thought it would be an honour to play for a big Premier League team." - Falcao's dad clearly got bored after the close of the transfer window and thought he would kick up a bit of speculation to fill the long void that now stretches until January 1.

FOREIGN VIEW: A rather strange story erupted in Spain last night where Cristiano Ronaldo abruptly declared he is unhappy with something, or perhaps someone, at Real Madrid. When asked why he did not celebrate his two goals against Granada, the first of which was his 150th for the club, he replied: "I'm sad because of a professional issue and the club know why. That's why I didn't celebrate the goals, because I'm not happy. The people [at the club] know why. It's nothing to do with Andres Iniesta [winning UEFA's Best Player in Europe award]. I won't talk about this anymore and I will concentrate on Portugal for now. There are more important things [than this]. The people at the club know about this. I cannot say any more."

The mystery deepened following reports from one Spanish broadcaster that Ronaldo was seen to be crying for a prolonged spell in the Madrid dressing room following the match. One thing appears certain: you can brace yourselves for days, if not weeks, of speculation about his future. And in fairness, that may be exactly what he wants.

COMING UP: We publish our Team of the Week at lunch, while Jan Molby also has his say on the weekend's action. Tom Williams then updates us on events from France in the latest edition of Pitchside Europe this evening.