Chelsea might be purring at their summer transfer business, but Sir Alex Ferguson could not be more delighted with Robin van Persie. Manchester United were hopeful of luring Eden Hazard to Old Trafford until the Blues won the UEFA Champions League and turned the Belgian's head. Hazard has already impressed in his new surroundings and, together with Juan Mata and Oscar, has revolutionised the Chelsea midfield on their surge to the Premier League summit.
Van Persie opted to leave London. And like Hazard, he also snubbed Manchester City, joining United in a £24m deal which underlined just how much Ferguson wanted him. Despite the presence of England's first-choice strike partnership, Wayne Rooney and Daniel Welbeck, the Netherlands international has wasted no time in confirming himself as an essential member of the United line-up. Not only has the Dutchman scored eight times already, he has weighed in with a number of valuable assists, including two in the win over Stoke City last weekend.
"Robin's performances are getting better all the time," said Ferguson. "His cross last week for Wayne's goal was the kind a defender hates, whipped in between the last defender and the goalkeeper. It was brilliant.
"It is very difficult bedding new players in. But no big club can afford to stand still. When we realised Van Persie was not going to sign for Arsenal, we did our very best to get him to our club, and he has made an impact immediately."
There were plenty who thought midfield should have been Ferguson's priority, particularly as, in addition to Rooney and Welbeck, United also had Javier Hernandez and, at that time, Dimitar Berbatov at their disposal.
Berbatov has now left for Fulham but Hernandez remains, scoring twice in the comeback win over Braga on Tuesday. Ferguson has made a point of praising the Mexican, insisting he is benefiting from his first pre-season as a United player. However, in buying Van Persie, Ferguson did not have to wait for potential to be fulfilled.
"We bought him to make a difference," he said. "Now he has got there with his fitness his movement has been really impressive.
"We want him to give us maturity up front and also the flexibility of different types of players. With Welbeck, Hernandez, Van Persie and Rooney, we have fantastic alternatives. That could make the difference."
A lesson learnt
By common consent, United lost the title last year during those mad few minutes against Everton, when they tossed away a 4-2 advantage and two points that crucially meant Manchester City could overhaul them if they won the derby the following week, which they duly did.
There was still one dramatic late twist to come of course, but the outcome was the same: failure on goal difference. It seems Ferguson regards that as much of an affront as the loss of the Premier League itself - and he is determined it will not happen again.
"There are a lot of ways a league can be decided," he said. "Losing it on goal difference was unusual for us."