RVP: Man United Striker Nets First Goal and Benefits from Wayne Rooney Injury

Willie Gannon@https://twitter.com/WillieGannonSenior Writer IAugust 26, 2012

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - AUGUST 25:  Robin van Persie of Manchester United looks on prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Fulham at Old Trafford on August 25, 2012 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson were left in shock after a horrific injury to Wayne Rooney overshadowed a home debut to remember for Robin van Persie.

The Dutch star scored his first goal for the Red Devils since leaving Arsenal in the summer, as United beat Martin Jol's Fulham, 3-2.

The almost-perfect day was to end on a bittersweet note for Van Persie and United, as Wayne Rooney received a gash across his thigh following an innocuous challenge with Hugo Rodeallega that was nothing less than bloodcurdling. 

As gruesome as the injury was, Van Persie is the player who stands to benefit from Rooney's absence, especially with The Sun speculating that Sir Alex Ferguson may be ready to move his star player on.

The Dutchman has got the monkey off his back by scoring his first goal, and now his closest rival to the centre-forward position at Manchester United will be out injured, according to the club's official website, for at least four weeks.

This will give Van Persie an obvious edge over Rooney, as Sir Alex Ferguson will be practically forced to start with the ex-Arsenal captain for every game between now and the end of September with Hernandez and Danny Wellbeck promoted a peg as his backup.

When you consider that United's next games are Southampton away (Sept. 2), Wigan at home (Sept. 15), Liverpool away (Sept. 23), Tottenham Hotspur at home (Sept. 29) and Newcastle United away (Oct. 7), United's new No. 20 should play every single game, which means that his presence will dictate Sir Alex Ferguson's tactics.

This will possibly leave Rooney out in the cold when he returns to the team.

Today against Fulham, the Old Trafford maestro surprisingly dropped Rooney to the bench and chose to go with Van Persie at the pinnacle of a 4-2-3-1 formation.

The system worked very well for the most part, with United controlling the game across midfield and Shinji Kagawa looking particularly impressive and creative.

However, it was defensive errors, more than anything else, that contributed to Fulham's two goals and made the game and result seem far closer that it had any right to be.

Van Persie's goal, United's equaliser after Damien Duff's opener, was exactly what we have come to expect from the skillful Dutchman.

Patrice Evra was released down the left, and his poor cross was turned into a world-class pass as Van Persie checked his run to meet it. He then wrapped his left foot around the ball and sent a thunderous and unstoppable shot into the top corner for his home-debut goal.

The goal, such was its beauty, literally had United's fans screaming in glory, while Fulham's and Arsenal's fans screamed in agony.

As the game wore on, Van Persie's communication with his midfield visibly improved, and he became more and more of an influence.

Ferguson, after surprisingly dropping Rooney to the bench, curiously substituted Kagawa for the England star as he looked to close up shop with the Cottagers starting to get on top.

The move worked perfectly well up until the closing stages, when Rooney and Rodeallega clashed in what looked like an innocent challenge.

However, television footage was to reveal that Rooney had taken a blow to the leg, which looked as though it had cut straight through to the bone.

Medical staff instantly ran on to deal with the striker’s injury, and he was later sent to hospital for treatment.

Ferguson said that Rooney is out until the second international break of the season, which is probably the best time to be out for four weeks as far as Rooney is concerned as he only misses a few games.

In another part of the season, a four-week stretch on the sidelines could mean missing up to ten games between Champions League and Premier League games.

And with that in mind, it now looks as though the main person to prosper from a return to goals and the injury will be none other than Robin van Persie.

The main reason Van Persie was dropped last week and Rooney was dropped this week was to give both equal chances to gel with new players, the new formation and each other.

Ferguson has chosen this route to develop both players' understandings of each other because experience tells us that partnerships need time to grow.

However, all those plans have now been put on the back-burner, as Rooney will now definitely miss at least four games if not more as he recovers from his injury.

So with Ferguson having gone with a 4-2-3-1 to accommodate the Dutchman as much as his static midfield, it looks like this will become the formation of choice.

Van Persie is now in pole position for playing centre-forward for United for the rest of the season if he can keep in goal-scoring form.

This will inevitably give the new signing a much quicker settling-in period than that which Sir Alex would have wanted or liked.

United fans hope he will be able to deal with the pressure and expectation that comes with playing for a club like Manchester United in Rooney's absence.