From signing Van Persie in the summer to the Dutchman's hat-trick on Monday night... here's how United won the title
After Manchester United beat Aston Villa 3-0 on Monday night at Old Trafford to clinch their 20th top-flight crown, Sportsmail's Ian Ladyman takes a step-by-step look at another glorious season for Sir Alex Ferguson's side.
Champions again: Manchester United celebrate winning the Premier League after beating Aston Villa 3-0
The shutting of the summer transfer window on August 31 left United to reflect on the recruitments of Robin van Persie and Shinji Kagawa and City wondering how they ended up with Scott Sinclair and Javi Garcia.
One-nil to those in red.
Major scalp: Robin van Persie joined Manchester United from Arsenal last summer
United started their league season with a 1-0 defeat at Everton.
It was not an ideal scenario but it served only to deepen the resolve of Sir Alex Ferguson.
He used the disappointment of that night at Goodison Park to drive his players on.
Losing start: Marouane Fellaini's header guided Everton to a 1-0 win against Manchester United
STILL FIND A WAY
United’s early-season form was patchy and their performance against Liverpool at Anfield in September was wretched.
Even against 10 men United struggled but somehow they found a way to win 2-1.
It gave them a little breathing space when questions were being asked.
Winning the hard way: United made tough work of 10-man Liverpool to win 2-1 at Anfield
BATTLES AT THE BRIDGE
With an air of vulnerability still hanging over them, United visited Chelsea twice in a week in October.
They won the first game 3-2, with Chelsea having Fernando Torres and Branislav Ivanovic sent off, and lost the second, in the Capital One Cup, 5-4 in extra time.
But the League Cup is a distraction United never need.
Bridge battles: United played out two thrillers against Chelsea in a week, winning the league match 3-2
United’s early season was characterised by bad defending and dodgy goalkeeping.
But a 4-3 win at Reading on December 1 featured a performance by Anders Lindegaard so poor that Ferguson decided to stick with David de Gea for the rest of the season.
It paid off.
Keeper trouble: Anders Lindegaard's (performance) against Reading prompted Ferguson to stick with De Gea
DAY THEY EDGED AHEAD
The two Manchester clubs were hard to separate when United visited City in the run-up to Christmas and even closer together with the score locked at 2-2 late in the game.
But a free-kick from Van Persie gave United victory at the Etihad Stadium, and Ferguson’s team never looked back.
Late but great: Van Persie's free-kick in injury time won a dramatic Manchester derby for United 3-2
SOME FESTIVE SPIRIT
Despite their points advantage, United’s defending continued to undermine them and once again they struggled, this time at home to Newcastle on Boxing Day.
But late goals from Van Persie and Javier Hernandez saw them come from behind to win 4-3 and United had ridden out another storm.
Dramatic: Javier Hernandez scored a late goal as Manchester United beat Newcastle 4-3 on Boxing Day
CITY BLOW CHANCE
United don’t offer their opponents many opportunities and when they come, you must take them.
A draw at snowy Tottenham on January 20 handed City a way back into the race only for the champions to fail at bottom club QPR next time out. Oops...
Missed chance: Manchester City lost at QPR after United were held to a draw by Tottenham
UNDER THE RADAR
Sometimes it’s the low-profile victories that take you to the title and when Wayne Rooney scored a late goal at Fulham to secure a 1-0 victory in February, Ferguson’s men were beginning to look like a team that would not loosen their grip.
Low-profile: Wayne Rooney scored the only goal of the game in United's 1-0 win at Fulham
BACK IN CONTROL
City’s derby win at Old Trafford two weeks ago gave them one last chance to provoke a United wobble. United’s next game — away to Stoke — was always going to be crucial.
Michael Carrick scored in the fourth minute and that was pretty much that.
Back in the groove: After the derby defeat, Michael Carrick put his team ahead at Stoke after just four minutes