Robin van Persie senses something ‘special’ is brewing at Manchester United and has hailed two ‘difference-makers’ in Erik ten Hag’s squad.
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The Premier League giants have largely struggled since Sir Alex Ferguson’s retirement in 2013, failing to win any league titles and slipping behind domestic rivals Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
United only finished sixth in the Premier League last season but have fared much better under Ten Hag, climbing to third this term, three points behind local rivals Man City and five behind leaders Arsenal.
The Red Devils have also advanced to the EFL Cup final – where they will meet Newcastle United on Sunday – while they are preparing to face Barcelona in a Europa League knockout decider on Thursday night.
Van Persie has been impressed by Manchester United’s transformation since Ten Hag joined from Ajax last summer and insists there is now a ‘different energy’ around the club.
Asked if he senses that something special is brewing at Old Trafford, Van Persie told United’s official website: ‘I can feel that, yes.
‘Just by simple things. For example, this morning, when I arrived at the airport, a fan came towards me and asked the question if I’m going to the game.
‘I said yeah, I’m going to the game, I’m here for the game and he said okay, me too. I said where did you travel from and he said I travelled especially to watch the match tomorrow and on Sunday for the cup final, from Bangkok.
‘So he travelled and I said wow, it’s a big commitment and he said yes, I’m a big fan. He said this Manchester United makes him really happy with the way they play, the energy, the intensity.
‘I said it’s nice to hear but that is like a sign – people are really happy to see Manchester United play. The whole energy around the club is so much more positive than it used to be in the last few years.
‘So that is like, Erik earns credit for that, but the players as well. Everyone earns credit. It’s nice to see the whole energy around the club is so much more positive and the guys are working very hard for that.’
Van Persie spent three years at Manchester United after leaving Premier League rivals Arsenal in 2012, scoring 58 goals in 105 appearances for the club and starring in their title triumph in Ferguson’s last season.
The Netherlands legend thoroughly enjoyed United’s exciting 2-2 draw with Barcelona in the Europa League last week and expects more thrills at Old Trafford on Thursday night.
Van Persie is quietly confident going into the fixture as he believes Manchester United have two ‘difference-makers’ in Marcus Rashford and Bruno Fernandes.
‘It was like a Champions League-worth fixture,’ the 39-year-old added. ‘What I liked about that game was they always stayed calm.
‘No matter what happened, they had to play with [nearly] 100,000 people against a very good side now and they stay calm and trust their own quality and ability.
‘They know, sooner or later in a match, Marcus Rashford will have his moment. Bruno Fernandes is there.
‘You have quality players in front who can make the difference. In any normal game, they will make that difference.
‘It’s all to play for now. From the fans’ point of view, it’s a joy to watch. Both teams want to attack, both want to play dominant football, both are very fit. I’m really looking forward to it.’
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