Robin van Persie’s excitement over Man Utd return makes Old Trafford appointment possible
Erik ten Hag in profile as Man Utd 'open talks' with Ajax boss
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Earlier this week, it emerged Manchester United could bring Robin van Persie back to Old Trafford to work under Erik ten Hag. The Red Devils are apparently keen on bringing in a Dutch coach who played for the club in order to mend their fractured dressing room. And past comments from the retired striker suggest he’d jump at the chance to come back.
Manchester United signed Van Persie back in the summer transfer window of 2012, with the Dutchman leaving Arsenal and turning down the advances of Manchester City in order to join Sir Alex Ferguson’s side.
And he made an instant impact, propelling the Red Devils to Premier League title glory with 30 goals across all competitions.
No United player has managed more in a single season since Van Persie departed in 2015, having lost his mojo under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal.
And a sensational return could be on the cards.
It emerged earlier this week that Van Persie was a potential target to become United assistant should, as expected, Ten Hag secure the manager’s job.
The Ajax boss is the leading candidate to take over at Old Trafford, ahead of Paris Saint-Germain’s Mauricio Pochettino and Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui.
And Van Persie’s previous comments suggest he’d jump at the chance of return to his old side.
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In 2016, United were drawn against Fenerbahce in the Europa League – meaning their former No 20 would be returning to his old hunting ground.
And Van Persie couldn’t contain his excitement ahead of the showdown, which the Red Devils would later win, labelling Old Trafford as his ‘home’.
“It will be a special occasion and a special game for me,” Van Persie told MUTV.
“I know Manchester United want to be in the Champions League, but it is how it is now and for me it is a very special group in the Europa League.
“In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it’s United. I am looking forward to it.
“I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play ‘at home’ [Old Trafford] in a great stadium with great fans against a great team.”
United won 4-1 at Old Trafford on a night where Van Persie came back.
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Paul Pogba was the star of the show, netting twice, with Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard on target.
Van Persie, by labelling the famous stadium as his ‘home’, showed exactly what United as a club mean to him.
And that suggests that, if there is a chance of returning an assistant, the Red Devils may be onto a winner.
Speaking in 2020, meanwhile, Van Persie opened up on his move away from United back five years previously.
And he admitted it was a ‘ruthless’ parting of the ways with Van Gaal making it clear the veteran was surplus to requirements.
“I had this chat with Van Gaal and he told me: ‘OK Robin, our ways will part.
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“I’m the coach, you’re the player – you have to go, your time is up’.
“Yeah but I still have a contract?’ He said: ‘I don’t care’. Ruthless.
“Towards the end of it, I saw something coming but not this ruthless. And the way he said it as well.
“And then a lot of things go through your mind when you get a message like that.
“I still had a contract, my family was happy, it was my 11th year in England. We love living in England. What’s next?
“My kids are going to school, they have their friends and everything. So in a split second, all these things come across your mind. How do you react to that?”
He then added: “On the way home back I was thinking: ‘Okay, this is tough. How do you react to a message like that?’
“That ruthless, that hard, that direct. And then loads of things came through my mind and we started pre-season.
“I wasn’t allowed to play in the 11 vs 11 and I was given a ball and told to do my own stuff.
“So you try to stay calm, stay cool but there’s loads of things happening. You’re playing the macho card. ‘It doesn’t affect me’ but it does. It does affect me, my family and my career. Big time.
“But I tried to stay cool, but maybe at that point it was good for me to talk to someone outside of my inner circle but I was too stubborn to do that.
“Now if I look back at it, there was a couple of points in my career where I should have done that.”
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