LONDON: Manchester United may have lost their opening Premier League fixture of the season, but Ryan Giggs believes the arrival of Robin van Persie has sent a message to their rivals ahead of the Dutchman’s home debut against Fulham.
Van Persie had little time to impress when he made his first appearance for United as a second half substitute in the 1-0 defeat to Everton at Goodison Park on Monday.
But Giggs is confident the Netherlands striker, signed from Arsenal in a 24 million pound deal last week, will have a significant impact on the title race this season.
And the United midfielder believes van Persie’s capture shows boss Sir Alex Ferguson is determined to do whatever it takes to dethrone champions Manchester City.
“It sends out a big message. And it’s great when a player comes out and says he wants to come to the club as well. I’m biased but players should want to come to United,” Giggs said.
“You’re always guaranteed to be up there challenging for trophies, there’s a great team spirit, top facilities and you get to play for a great manager. There are so many plus points.”
Giggs has been playing for United for more than two decades but he maintains that he has never been more excited about a new campaign.
He admits the way United were beaten to the title – they lost on goal difference to City after their rivals scored twice in stoppage-time on the final day of the season – has given Ferguson’s team even greater motivation.
“It wasn’t a nice feeling to lose the title last season. It never is,” he said.
“It was the manner in which we lost it which was tough to take. I’m sure if we put that much effort in again and get that little bit of luck then we’ll go that extra step.
“I’m more excited than ever about the season. You appreciate and try to enjoy things a lot more as your career comes towards the end and I’m no different. I can’t wait for it all to unfold.”
Meanwhile, Ferguson will be hoping that United’s injury problems ease for the visit of the Cottagers after Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Rio Ferdinand all missed the game at Everton, forcing Ferguson to employ midfielder Michael Carrick out of position in defence.
Carrick was brutally exposed by Everton’s Marouane Fellaini as the Belgian headed the winner, so Ferguson will be relieved that Fulham will be without Clint Dempsey, who can also pose a potent aerial threat.
Dempsey will be missing after the club lodged a formal complaint with the Premier League over Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers’ admission he had inquired about the American forward during pre-season.
Dempsey has been training alone since refusing to take a full part in pre-season preparations after making it clear he wants to leave the club and Cottagers boss Martin Jol confirmed the deadlock remained.
“It’s the same situation,” he said. “There has been no formal bid on the table and nothing has changed.”
However, last weekend’s 5-0 victory over Norwich, achieved without Dempsey, delivered a timely boost to Jol’s side with Mladen Petric in particular impressing on his debut up front.
And Jol insists there is no reason to make special plans for facing United.
“Last season at Old Trafford they scored one goal out of nothing, but in the second half we were better,” he said.
“We should have scored and we should have had a penalty but we didn’t get it so we lost 1-0.
“But hopefully we can play our own game. That is the most important thing.
“We have to try and play our football and create chances and if you score one or two goals then you’re always in with a chance of a result.”