Fenerbahce striker Robin van Persie has said he could have been lining up against the Turkish side in Thursday night’s Europa League clash at Old Trafford had Sir Alex Ferguson still been in charge of Manchester United.
Van Persie was voted United’s Player of the Year in his first season at Old Trafford in 2012-13 as the Red Devils romped to the Premier League title by 11 points.
When asked if he felt he would still be at United had Ferguson stayed on, Van Persie told a press conference: “We will never know. It could have been that I could have been a player for Manchester United today.
“When I signed that was the idea, that Sir Alex would stay on for a few more years, but in football things change, you can’t plan your own path or your coach’s path.
“In this world you have to deal with how it comes.”
Ferguson announced his retirement at the end of that season and Van Persie struggled under the guidance of new boss David Moyes and then fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal.
He left for Turkey in July 2015 and has scored 17 goals in 35 appearances for the club so far.
The 33-year-old was keen to play down the significance of his return to Old Trafford this week, adding: “What happened, happened. I don’t think you have to make it bigger than it is.
“You shake hands and move on to the next chapter. I’m not that romantic, thinking ‘that was the moment…’ I will just do my lap, go in and prepare for tomorrow.”
Van Persie is focused on helping his current club take three points against Jose Mourinho’s men and says there is no extra motivation on his part.
“I have to find the right balance of having fun, enjoying the moment of being back here and doing my work,” he said.
“I have to try and do my best for Fenerbahce. I give my all. I don’t really follow the daily opinions in the papers or social media because to me if you start doing that I don’t think it brings you forward.
“I know what I have to do — train well, be positive — and I know as well that I can’t play fantastic every single game or in training. That’s the football world and I do respect other opinions, but I know what I want and I try to give everything I have.”
The former Arsenal striker was oblivious to the incident which saw the plane transporting Fenerbahce from Turkey forced into an unscheduled landing in Budapest.
A message posted on the club’s official Twitter account just before midday on Wednesday said a forced landing was made in the Hungarian capital after a bird struck the aircraft’s windscreen. The message was accompanied by photographs apparently of the plane’s windscreen, with the glass covered in cracks.
That delayed the Turkish OK prematch news conference and prevented the team from training on the Old Trafford pitch on Wednesday evening, but Van Persie said of the episode: “Everything is okay.
“I didn’t realise [what was going on] until I was told, I was watching a series. Then I found out. It’s been a long day, we’ve been travelling since 10 a.m., so almost 13 hours now, but it’s been OK.”