Relief for scoring Van Persie

The Dutchman struck for the first time in a month on Saturday, netting United’s third in a one-sided Premier League victory at Old Trafford, but some were surprised he had even started the game having produced a lacklustre display at Arsenal a week before.

His manager Louis van Gaal had described his compatriot’s efforts at the Emirates as “a very bad game”, adding: “It is a question of confidence, or??maybe scoring a wonderful goal at the right moment.”

With fit-again??Radamel Falcao left on the bench for the visit of Hull, Van Persie repaid his boss with a fine left-footed strike and the delighted striker said: “If you score a goal like that it gives you confidence and the team, and if I am really honest I needed that,”

“You just have to keep working and those goals, or any goals, will come.”

United have now won three in succession in the league for the first time under Van Gaal, who described the performance as the most satisfying of his time in charge.

Defender Chris Smalling, who bundled in their deserved opener after a goalmouth scramble, agreed with Van Gaal’s glowing team assessment.

The 25-year-old said: “The manager said it was our best game of the season and I think it was. It was a complete performance.

“I think he said of the Arsenal result that we ground that out without particularly playing well, but this time we did. He’s said he wants six points (this week) and we want to deliver that on Tuesday against Stoke.”

Smalling played alongside Marcos Rojo in a flat back four, with wingers Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young in the full-back positions.

Van Gaal has previously shown preference for a three-man defence but felt he had the flexibility to adapt because players are growing used to his philosophy.

The United manager said: “It is not about methods, it is philosophy. We have to perform because of that philosophy and then you can play in different formations, and that we are doing.

“It is also dependent on the quality of the opponent. We selected the right formation I think to beat a team with five defenders.”