Robin van Persie has followed the manual to the letter, apart from the bit about taking penalties properly. In the quest to win acceptance from his team-mates at Manchester United, the £24m striker has helped himself by scoring goals that have been spectacular and valuable.
At Southampton on Sunday, when his hat-trick brought about the 3-2 comeback win, some of his flicks and polished work took the breath away. It is the knowledge, however, that there is another side to Van Persie's game that has been noted with approval inside the dressing room.
"He is a fighter and he is not scared to play a hard game as well," said the captain, Nemanja Vidic, who knows a thing or two about hardness. "We like him at United for that, I think. Away from home against Southampton he is not scared to receive the ball and have defenders on top of his back. This is important if you want to be top goalscorer here."
Talent means nothing without bravery and the very best put themselves unflinchingly in harm's way. Cristiano Ronaldo's reputation at United was for the flashier things but the kicks that he took during his six years at the club were always acknowledged, not least by the manager, Sir Alex Ferguson.
The backs of Van Persie's legs throbbed at times on Sunday, particularly when the Southampton defender Jos Hooiveld scythed through him to concede the second-half penalty that Van Persie botched with a failed chip. But he had the last laugh at full time after his two late goals and he could blow kisses, wave and stick up his thumbs at the United support, who bounced and belted out his name in song.
Van Persie's first goal was a celebration of chest control and left-footed power; the second showcased his ability to react quickest inside the area and the third was the pick of the bunch, a well-timed run followed by an angling of his body in mid-air to direct a header into the far corner.
"When you are a good player," Vidic said, "it is easier to adapt [to a new club] but I think his desire to score plays a big part. You want to play nice football and have good touches and play nice … it's good but I think that desire he showed to score his goals, this is top-class."
Van Persie's desire is part of the strength of his character, which was in evidence at St Mary's. He had missed three chances before the penalty but he did not allow it to prey on his mind as he sought the final flourish. He shares his relentless will to win with Ferguson, who reached 1,000 league games on his United watch at Southampton. It is already possible to see Van Persie as the archetypal Ferguson player.
"The manager is an inspiration for us," Vidic said. "Every year he has that hunger to win. He has set up that mentality in the dressing room. It is no coincidence that Manchester United have won so many games in the last minute … this is what the manager is asking from the players, to always go for the win. You are never happy with the draw. You are always going to the end and you never stop."
Van Persie paid tribute to Paul Scholes, a 61st-minute substitute on Sunday, for pulling the strings in the fightback. Scholes sent Van Persie through for one of his missed chances almost immediately and the Dutchman described him as "the man of the match". Yet it was encouraging to see how Michael Carrick's probing and the intelligent variation of Antonio Valencia's crossing also led to opportunities for Van Persie.
Ferguson persuaded the directors at Old Trafford to break with policy and pay a large fee for a 29-year-old. The manager's legacy is assured and, at the age of 70, he will not be in charge for ever. He wanted the finished article, a player to make an immediate impact and, with four goals in two starts, Van Persie is up and sprinting. If he can maintain his fitness, the possibilities feel exhilarating.
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