“People forget what he achieved for Arsenal,” said Evra. “But he showed them that he hasn’t made the wrong choice. It was a long time that he didn’t win the league at Arsenal. He has come to Manchester United and won the league. He did a good job for Arsenal and I was really disappointed for him. I think he felt it as well.”
Sir Alex Ferguson has reiterated this point, claiming that United fans always give a good welcome to our former players. The important difference is that, more often than not, United players leave to join worse clubs. Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid and received a great welcome earlier this season when he returned but it’s silly to think that would have happened if went to City or Chelsea.
Carlos Tevez is the best comparison we have, even if there are plenty of differences. Tevez helped win us the league title and European Cup in his first season yet he gets plenty of abuse when he comes back to Old Trafford with City. Of course, City are our local rivals, it’s not as if Van Persie joined Spurs, but if you recall the hatred we felt for Arsenal 10-15 years ago, it’s likely a lot of their fans still feel that way about us. Also, Tevez was at United for a couple of seasons whilst Van Persie spent eight years at Arsenal.
The Arsenal fans that called Van Persie a mercenary look foolish now, given it took him just eight months to win the league after leaving them for us, but they’re entitled to give him stick. He left them for what they would consider to be a rival club and they’re pissed off about it. Fair enough. I’m sure they’ll get over it one day.