Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson would be surprised if Robin van Persie was not given a warm reception by Arsenal fans this weekend.
The prolific Dutchman is poised to face his former club for the first time since joining United in a £24million summer deal as the Gunners visit Old Trafford in the Barclays Premier League on Saturday. Van Persie scored 37 goals for the Londoners last season but, with his contract running down, opted not to renew and the club sold to their rivals.
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has said Van Persie, who was brought to England from Feyenoord by the Gunners in 2004, deserves respect and Ferguson agrees. The Scot said: "I think Arsene has laid his seed for his supporters in terms of respecting him."
He went on: "I think, if you think about all the former players who have come back to Old Trafford, they always get a warm applause. I don't think he'll have a problem. I think the fans will recognise the eight years he gave them and I think that will be nice."
As well as scoring goals, Van Persie has made a good all-round contribution to the United cause and Ferguson thinks he has settled quickly because no acclimatisation was necessary.
Ferguson said: "He is a mature player and I think that helps, and the experience he has got playing eight years in England.
"The fact he has played in England makes it easier to go to another English club. It has been very satisfying for us. It has been a fantastic start and hopefully he keeps it going."
Van Persie was on target for Arsenal on their forgettable last visit to Old Trafford in August last year, when they were hammered 8-2. Ferguson is certainly not expecting a repeat of that extraordinary scoreline.
He said: "It won't happen, that's for sure.
"There is no point living in the past, we have just got to look forward. It could be a way of motivating Arsenal, that is possible, but I think we have got to have the motivation to make sure we win the match."
- Sports & Recreation
- Sir Alex Ferguson
- Manchester United