When showing off Robin van Persie – Manchester United's new prized asset – Sir Alex Ferguson was being watched intently by the man to his right. That man, the £24m signing from Arsenal who has penned a four-year deal, hung on his manager's every word, nodding in agreement at times and was generally fixated with what he had to say when talking about the upcoming Premier League season.
Van Persie, who began yesterday's press conference in a decorous mood by thanking Arsène Wenger and the Gunners' fans for their support during his eight years in north London, spoke of entering a club which felt like a family; somewhere easy to fit in. He also communicated a vision of something great beginning to happen at Old Trafford as they desperately try to wrench back the title.
But why, with solid interest from Roberto Mancini's champions, did he choose red over blue? "Everyone knows me by now. I'm a lover of football. In that respect I'm quite principled," the striker said.
"It is always quite difficult to find a perfect match but I do feel that this is perfect for me. Manchester United breathe football and if you look at all the players, the stadium and the manager, my choice was made very soon in my mind if you were basing it on those two clubs.
"I always listen to the little boy inside of me in these situations – when you have to make the harder decisions in life. What does he want? That boy was screaming for Man United.
"This is like a family club. In that respect it isn't a big difference [to Arsenal]. Let me make one thing clear – because I don't want things twisted – is that from my side, and Arsenal as well, there are no hard feelings. There were certain elements which were vital to me that we had a different view. That is life. Nobody is angry at me and I'm not angry at them."
It was then Ferguson's turn to speak, and it was as if Van Persie morphed back into that child, engrossed when hearing the lavish praise coming his way.
That was certainly the case when the United manager talked up the Dutchman's ability to help the younger players' development.
Ferguson said: "He's what we have needed for the last couple of years. He has a maturity in his game now. His authority, timing and understanding of the game is complete and I think that we'll benefit for the next four years and, hopefully, beyond that."
Ferguson then went on to focus on the other impact his new signing can have on Danny Welbeck and Javier Hernandez: "If you remember what Eric Cantona did for the young players when he arrived, he was a tremendous teacher. I think Daniel will welcome that."
And it is not just the immense threat Van Persie possesses to rivals on the pitch, or nurturing younger talent at the club that Ferguson is excited about. It relieves a portion of the burden felt by Paul Scholes and Ryan Giggs as the mature figureheads. "We need a finished player. You have to remember that Scholes and Giggs are coming to the end and we need mature, top players to replace that.
"In our team talks Robin was always a problem for us. He is capable of popping up in positions, so I've taken that problem away from myself and I'm quite happy about that. We never thought we could get Van Persie," added Ferguson, grinning ear to ear.
Van Persie might play big brother to attacking partners in this family, but that is just a subplot to the potentially deadly partnership with Wayne Rooney. After all, Mancini admitted United now have the best attacking talent in world football.Reuse content