Robin van Persie has admitted that he might still be playing for Manchester United today were Sir Alex Ferguson still in charge. The experienced striker is set to return to the club for the first time since his 2015 summer exit on Thursday night (20 October) as Fenerbahce visit Old Trafford in matchday three of the Europa League group stage.
Van Persie joined United from rivals Arsenal for £24m ($29.4m) in 2012 and marked his first season with a 26-goal haul that was the driving force behind a successful title charge. However, that was to prove his only campaign under Ferguson after the iconic manager announced in May 2013 that he was stepping down after 26 years, 894 matches and 38 trophies.
Van Persie never managed to replicate that success and struggled for both fitness and form during David Moyes' disastrous 10-month reign. After an impressive World Cup campaign in which he scored four goals in six matches to help the Netherlands finish third in Brazil it was thought the 33-year-old was back, and was boosted by the arrival of former Dutch boss Louis van Gaal as manager in 2014. Eventually RVP fell out of favour and was subsequently sold to Fenerbahce for a lowly fee of just £4.7m.
Such an exit proved to be slightly acrimonious, with Van Persie's departure only officially confirmed by United days after he had already been unveiled in Istanbul. Indeed there was no mention at all of his exit on the club's social media account and the player omitted Van Gaal entirely from his goodbye message amid reports that he felt betrayed, instead choosing to praise the "very classy" work of "true gentleman" [CEO] Ed Woodward.
Addressing his move during a pre-match press conference held at Old Trafford on Wednesday night, Van Persie was quoted as saying by Sky Sports: "I'm a positive-minded person, so I think about positive things. But I'm realistic as well. What happened, happened. I don't think you have to make it bigger than it is because how I left, I think most guys leave in that way. You shake hands and you move on to the next chapter. That is how it goes."
When asked if events would have turned out differently had Ferguson not chosen to retire, he added: "We will never know, but it could have been. It could be that I would be a player for Man United today, it could be that I would move on. We will never know. When I signed, that was the idea that Sir Alex would stay on for a few more years. But in football things change."