In the summer of 2012, Sir Alex Ferguson pulled off one of the best transfers of his career in convincing Robin van Persie to leave Arsenal for Manchester United and snub Manchester City. At the time, he was the PFA and FWA Player of the Year, as well as the current holder of the Golden Boot, and his arrival turned us from a team who finished second on goal difference to a team who were 16 points clear at the top of the league when the title was won.
United beat Aston Villa 3-0, courtesy of a Van Persie hattrick, and in our first game as champions we played Arsenal at the Emirates. Our Dutchman had already scored against Arsenal in our victory over them at Old Trafford and refused to celebrate, despite a torrent of abuse from the away end directed at their former captain who spent eight years playing for them.
Ahead of the game away, Arsenal’s players lined up to give the United team a guard of honour, but Van Persie has revealed in the official United podcast that he felt awkward at the occasion.
I didn’t like it. Some of them were my friends, I spent eight years there and I was just happy that it was over. I could see in their faces that they didn’t like it, which I get. And then you see me walking there, I was just happy that it was over.
I think it’s a nice gesture to do towards the champions, but it just didn’t feel right, not for me and not for Arsenal. It was a little bit awkward there, so I didn’t feel really comfortable about that. From my point of view, it didn’t need to happen. Okay, it’s part of the rules and, from the basics, I did like it but not that particular day.