Jeering from Arsenal fans won't bother Van Persie, says Alex Ferguson
Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson says he has no concerns about the prospect of Robin van Persie facing abuse from fans of his ex-club Arsenal when the teams clash at the Emirates Stadium today.
Van Persie left Arsenal in an acrimonious £24 million transfer last year and has been a revelation in his first season at Old Trafford.
His hat-trick against Aston Villa took his tally for the campaign to 24 league goals and secured the title for United, which Arsenal have pledged to acknowledge by forming a guard of honour for the visiting team.
The sight of Van Persie being applauded on to the pitch as a league champion by his former teammates is liable to provoke strong feelings among the Arsenal support, but Ferguson believes the Dutchman will not be fazed.
“I don’t bother about it, and I don’t think Robin should bother about it either,” said the United manager. “There was a bit of booing when he played (vs Arsenal) at Old Trafford, and I expect a portion of fans will do that. That is the modern generation, I am afraid.
For Arsenal to have one of their players go to their biggest rivals doesn’t sit well with their fans, nor Arsene (Wenger) for that matter. But it does happen. You just have to move on. Arsenal have moved on now.
They are challenging for a Champions League place and have every chance of getting one,” he added. Ferguson has urged United to go on and break the Premier League points record of 96 by winning their four remaining games, but today’s showdown will be of far greater significance to the fight for Champions League qualification.
Arsenal, in third, fourth-place Chelsea, and fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur are currently separated by just two points, but Wenger’s side are at a disadvantage as they have played a game more than both of their rivals.
However, their form is excellent, with six wins in their last seven matches, and Wenger believes his side’s performances prove that Van Persie has not been unduly missed.
“What you want to focus on is that when the big players go, you just want to get around it and try to find a new organisation that is efficient,” he said. “You always miss a big player. It took us a while to get around it, but if you look at the number of goals we’ve scored, it’s similar to last season (1.91 goals per game compared to 1.95).”