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Alex Ferguson hails Robin van Persie

Alex Ferguson has hit back at Roberto Mancini's claims that Manchester City are as good as Manchester United after his side secured the Premier League title.

Sir Alex Ferguson said Manchester United's 20th league title triumph has given him fresh impetus to carry on and hailed Robin van Persie as having a similar impact as legend Eric Cantona after the Dutch striker's hat-trick secured the victory.

"It didn't really matter who scored as long as we won this game and we did win this game,'' Van Persie told Sky Sports 1. "From the first minute everyone played well and everyone wanted it. It was a great to score so early and it was a fantastic game of football.

"I'm very happy but it's weird. I had to wait for so long for my first title and it's a great feeling.''

Van Persie's treble included a stunning volley and Ferguson admitted the summer signing from Arsenal had been crucial.

It also ended a long wait for a Premier League title for 29-year-old Van Persie after years of trying with the Gunners.

Asked about his own future plans, Ferguson joked: "Look at me -- it's taken 10 years off me today. It's these tablets, they're great!"

The 71-year-old celebrated after a 3-0 win over Aston Villa at Old Trafford handed United the Premier League title with four matches still to play.

About Van Persie, Ferguson said: "He has made a fantastic contribution to our season.

"In terms of impact he has as big as an impact as anyone I can imagine. Cantona was an incredible impact player and I have been very, very lucky, I have had some fantastic strikers right through, probably 10 great strikers at the club.

"I think we had an expectation. His performance for Arsenal last year was sensational and I remember Arsene saying to me 'he's a better player than you think' when we concluded the deal and I think he was right.

Meanwhile, Manchester United chief executive David Gill said critics of the U.S. owners have been mostly silenced by the team's ability to overhaul big-spending Manchester City and reclaim the English Premier League title.

Matches were marred two years ago by protests, but United has seen off City's threat as the Glazer family has slashed the debt that angered some fans.

The morning after United won a 20th English title, Gill told The Associated Press that "there are still a small number of dissenters and they will always be there ... the vast, vast majority of Manchester United fans are concerned about having a successful team playing great Manchester United attacking football."

Last year's marquee signing of Van Persie propelled United to the title and Gill said the Glazers have shown "we can invest in players" and ensure they are "paid a hell of a lot of money."

Rio Ferdinand took a jab at Manchester City's brief reign at the top.

"It's always sweet when you win the title and it's nice to do it here, in the right way and in style, not on goal difference," said Ferdinand. "We have won it outright and we have won it comfortably."

Last year, Sergio Aguero's injury-time effort won the Premier League for City seconds after United had concluded their own campaign.

"It just shows the resilience and attitude the manager has instilled in us," said Ferdinand. "A lot of teams would probably have fallen away.

"We played Liverpool a couple of seasons ago when they were fighting for the title, we beat them and got to the league before them and they've not been seen since.

"That shows the mentality and character that this club has," said Ferdinand.

"Robin has been a big factor."

"Last season, we lost on goal difference which tells you that we didn't score enough goals.

"We brought in a man who was top scorer last season and he looks like he is going to do that again this season.

"He has definitely added to what we had already."

Information from The Associated Press and Press Association was used in this report.

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