MANCHESTER United manager Sir Alex Ferguson hailed his players’ consistency after their 27th Premier League win of the season clinched a record 20th championship last night.
A first half hat-trick from Robin Van Persie blew away relegation-threatened Aston Villa and wrapped up the title for United with four games to spare, just as they did in the 1999-2000 season when they eventually finished with 91 points, their best ever tally in a 38-game campaign.
And Ferguson, who has guided United to 13 league titles, believes his squad deserves great credit for their latest achievement and refuted claims this team are weaker than past Manchester United side’s he has won 37 major honours with during his 27-year tenure in the Old Trafford hot-seat.
“Nostalgia plays tricks on people’s minds,” he said. “Put this season into context, we have got 84 points with four games left and we’ve never done that before.
“I’m delighted for the players, the staff and the supporters, it was a united thing, we all did well.
“We deserved it, our consistency has won us the league. The focus of the team has been good with the challenge from [Manchester] City and the players have come up trumps.”
United moved in front in the second minute when Ryan Giggs, now with 13 Premier League winners medals in his incredible collection, crossed for Van Persie to fire in.
On 13 minutes the Dutchman, whose performance Ferguson described as “unbelievable”, doubled his side’s lead with a mesmeric volley from 25 yards.
A long pass forwards from Wayne Rooney was watched by Van Persie and as the ball dropped over his right shoulder he unleashed a stunning left-foot strike across goal and into the top corner.
And 20 minutes later United’s top scorer completed his second hat-trick of the season with a close-range finish from Giggs’s square pass.
The second half was played at pedestrian pace for the most part, with United simply counting down the minutes until they could officially be confirmed champions.
Villa’s first defeat in three matches leaves them three points clear of the relegation zone with four matches to play, but 18th placed Wigan Athletic have a game in hand.
Ferguson’s side, who travel to Arsenal on Sunday, will be presented with the Premier League trophy after their last home match of the season against Swansea on 12 May.