Manchester United’s Champions League campaign is over after a controversial 2-1 defeat to Real Madrid, but despite the disappointing result, Robin van Persie will still add to his legacy with his excellent play this season.
The Dutchman showed his quality against Madrid, even though he was unable to get his name on the scoresheet. He managed to make his mark on the match while playing within Sir Alex Ferguson’s game plan.
A 0-0 draw would have sent United to the quarterfinals, and the team executed conservative tactics from the start. Van Persie played his part, dropping back to collect the ball when necessary while also providing pace and creativity to the Red Devils’ counter attacks.
While he did not produce any moments of magic—as he has earlier this season—there is little to criticize about his performance. He was active throughout the entire match and was able to orchestrate chances both before and after United went down to 10 men.
Nani’s red card changed the entire match, and this is the major reason the Red Devils are no longer in the Champions League. Although van Persie did not have his greatest match, he certainly cannot be accused of failing to show up for the contest.
When United signed van Persie in the summer, the prospect of pairing him with Wayne Rooney gave the club’s supporters hopes of European glory. But poor luck brought about the matchup with Madrid in the first knockout stage, and it still took sub-par officiating to seal United’s fate.
Now, van Persie is left with the Premier League and the FA Cup to continue his glorious form, which has led to 23 goals and eight assists in all competitions thus far.
Putting Rooney and van Persie—last season’s two most potent EPL goal-scorers,—on the pitch together has brought about the type of dynamic attack that United fans were hoping for, and this has been the driving force behind a season that will almost certainly result in another league title.
When history judges van Persie’s campaign, his impressive goal total and the stark difference he made for United’s attack will be the dominant takeaways, and the fact that the Red Devils bowed out against Madrid in the first knockout stage ultimately will not be a part of the Dutchman’s personal legacy.