Rival Manager Hails Manchester United's Lionel Messi
By Vishnuprasad S | December 17, 2012 11:16 PM EST
The Dutchman notched up yet another goal and assist as the Red Devils beat the Black Cats 3-1 at Old Trafford to maintain their six-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
O'Neill told ESPN: "With players of the calibre of Van Persie in your side, you always have a chance of winning football matches. Would, for instance, Barcelona have the same effect if Lionel Messi didn't play?
"The number of goals Messi has scored is incredible. They are a very talented team but without him, you don't know, because Messi is their talisman. Honestly, Van Persie can get goals out of very little. It looks like nothing is happening and you have players there in the area. But all of a sudden he has opened up a gap."
The Northern Irishman also pointed out that United signing van Persie from Arsenal in the summer, after seeing off competition from derby rivals Manchester City, was a crucial step forward for Sir Alex Ferguson's team. The 60-year-old also predicted the Red Devils would end up clinching the league title, if the Dutchman stays fit until the end of the season.
"You always felt that United would give themselves a big edge by getting Van Persie. We are making judgments before Christmas here - but if Van Persie stays fit, that will make a massive difference to United's challenge. They have a great chance of winning the league.
"United have paid close on £30 million for a player who had just one year left on his contract, so that might tell you how valuable they perceive him to be. But it's not just the perception, the reality is that he has been fantastic so far," O'Neill added.
Van Persie, who won the Premier League's Golden Boot last season, remains at the top of the scoring charts this year, alongside Swansea City's Michu, with 12 goals from 17 matches.
To contact the editor, e-mail:
Most Popular Slideshows
- ‘Sons of Anarchy’ Season 7 Finale Spoilers: Kurt Sutter On Ending The Biker Series And Picking The Right Song For The Final Ride
- Prince Charles’ Wife Camilla Parker-Bowles In Drug Scandal - Reports
- Prince Harry Kissing Mystery Blond, Cressida Bonas & Camilla Thurlow Are Distant Memory
- St. Louis Rams 28, Seattle Seahawks 26 [PHOTOS]
Join the Conversation
- Jules Bianchi Latest Update: F1 Driver's Father Says Son In A Desperate Situation
- Manny Pacquiao Chasing Floyd Mayweather Jr. Because Of Money But Says Undefeated American Is Afraid Of Filipino - Analysts
- Floyd Mayweather Trains Justin Bieber In The Boxing Ring
- Jules Bianchi Latest Update: Driver's Mother Says People 'Shirking Responsibility' About The Accident
- Novak Djokovic Aims For World No. 1 Rank In 2015, Becker Says
- Galaxy Note 4 vs Redmi Note 2 vs iPhone 6: Samsung in Danger with Depressing Q3
- iOS 8 Jailbreak Release Date Likely this October 2014 with Pangu not Evad3rs Firming Up as Creator
- Top 4 Free-To-Download Apps for Fuller iPhone 6, 6 Plus Experience
- Battery Saving Android 5.0 Lollipop Feature Extends The Battery Life Of Your Android Device By 90 Minutes And Displays Orange Bar While Power Saving Mode Is On
- Apple Inc. (AAPL) Stock Set to Soar Beyond $100 Despite Decline After New iPad Launch
- Russia Beefs Up Gold Reserves To Offset Heat of Sanctions And Undercut Dollar
- Australia's 'No Way' Anti-Asylum Seeker Poster Sparks Outrage