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Posted by Mark Payne

John Peters/Getty ImagesPostmatch Robin van Persie said nights like Monday's title-clinching win was the reason he joined United this past summer.

If any doubt remained about who was to be crowned champions, or indeed footballer of the year, it has been emphatically stamped out. Robin van Persie's stupendous hat trick has taken Manchester United to their 20th league title. Aston Villa were soundly beaten 3-0 at Old Trafford on the night, but it is in reclaiming the title from neighbours Manchester City that the fans delight.

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Sir Alex Ferguson came to work tonight to collect the 13th league title and 28th trophy of his reign as Manchester United manager. Old Trafford, the largest club stadium in the land, hosts a statue of the man and has a stand named after him. He absolutely deserves it. United are imperious. Under his stewardship they are immense. And they are champions again.

There was no disguising the celebratory atmosphere before kickoff. Flags, scarves, banners and shirts bearing the number '20' were on sale everywhere. This, to celebrate the club's 20th league title, and also a nod to their new No. 20, Robin van Persie, and the significant role he has played in it. "Welcome to 'Van'chester," they now say in these parts.

The football match still needed to be won, and United made short work of it. Wayne Rooney launched a ball after the kickoff toward Antonio Valencia, who sent in a cross. After bobbling to the opposite byline, Ryan Giggs returned it, and van Persie pounced. The game was one minute old, and United were ahead. A chorus of "Champions" broke out around the ground, and Aston Villa began to suspect it was not to be their night.

Van Persie's second goal was a marriage of Rooney's vision and the No. 20's stupendous ability. The Dutchman volleyed Rooney's sweeping ball from deep first time and beat Brad Guzan at the post. It was a sublime strike, the kind all players dream of scoring and a contender for goal of the season surely. It seemed fair to say that his recent goal drought was behind him.

United had sterling performers all over the pitch in an energetic first half. Giggs was on the field in 1993 when Ferguson claimed his first Premier League trophy here against Blackburn. He was shimmying all over the pitch again, 20 years later, still bamboozling defenders. United's oldest recruit crossed the ball to their newest to allow him to seal his hat trick.

Van Persie's acquisition was met by shrugs of the shoulders last July. Nobody thought United needed another striker. He has, without question, been one of those most inspired signings of Ferguson's tenure. The Dutchman remains on top of his game. Rafael and Patrice Evra have both had wonderful campaigns at full back. Both were biting into every challenge here and overlapping on the wings at every opportunity. Poor Villa were bombarded by their runs and Michael Carrick interchanging with Shinji Kagawa in the middle. On more than one occasion, Valencia found himself unmarked as the Villans tried in vain to stem all of United's threat.

But no further goals were to come in a more subdued second half. Rooney seemed to have an exchange with Ferguson on the touchline and was substituted for Danny Welbeck in what was not one of his finest nights' work. Kagawa missed a sitter, but there were no other clear-cut chances. Three would have to do.

This team, this club continues to evolve and regenerate, but the results are the same. They win. In the 82nd minute, van Persie could be seen tackling back at the United 18-yard line before surging forward again. It is fitting that he is now a league champion. He has resurrected United, and they march on.

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