Robin van Persie to star against Arsenal? Manchester United legend Lou Macari doubts he’ll even play

Exclusive by Ross McLean

Manchester United legend Lou Macari reckons Sir Alex Ferguson may resist the temptation to play Robin van Persie against former club Arsenal, despite Monday’s title-clinching hat-trick.

The Dutchman and talismanic ex-Gunners captain returns to the Emirates Stadium for the first time since his £24m move last summer.

And Macari – who made 400 appearances for the Red Devils between 1973 and 1984 – would not be surprised if the 28-goal striker is left on the bench for Sunday’s showdown.

“The big question is will the manager play him knowing full well he is likely to get a bad reception,” he said.

“I just have a feeling he won’t send him out there and will put him on the bench and disappoint all the Arsenal supporters.”

Macari – capped 24 times by Scotland – started his Old Trafford career by leading the forward line before blossoming in his more accustomed midfield role.

And the 63-year-old is full of praise for van Persie’s exploits this season, insisting his recent ten-game goal drought is all part of a striker’s lot.

“Most forwards will see a goalscoring spell come to an end during a season and have to wait a few weeks to get their next goal,” he added.

“No matter who you are you can’t keep scoring every week – after the unbelievable run of goals he got it was no surprise to me they dried up.

“But that’s the life of a striker – the goal at Stoke looks to have kick-started him again and then he got his wonderful hat-trick on Monday night against Aston Villa.

“So it looks like it will be a good end to the season for van Persie whether he is booed at Arsenal or not.”

Arsenal will hold a guard of honour for van Persie and Co ahead of Sunday’s encounter – the first since United secured their 20th league championship.

And despite the record-breaking feat, Macari fully expects Sir Alex to strengthen his squad in the summer ahead of a title defence next season.

“I’m not sure what will be in the manager’s mind because it’s been a successful team with them winning the league and doing it quite easily,” he said.

“I have no doubt that United’s challengers – the likes of Manchester City, Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool – will spend money improving their team.

“I think he may be forced into spending anyway – you cannot let your rivals who are trying to take the Barclays Premier League crown off you improve their team and not do it yourself.

“I am of the opinion clubs with money to splash will do so which almost certainly means United will be bringing in new players.”

Macari was in Tommy Docherty’s United side which lifted the FA Cup in 1977 against Liverpool – denying the Anfield-club a treble in the process.

And despite little riding on Sunday’s game, the former Celtic player insists playing for a club such as United automatically means any clash with Arsenal is far from irrelevant.

“Arsenal have failed to win anything again and will be out to finish the season in a blaze of glory and make sure they achieve Champions League qualification for next season,” he said.

“And they will want to beat the champions – that’s a given for any team playing United once they have been crowned champions.

“When you are at Manchester United you are expected to win games and lift silverware – you have to deliver every game.

“That is just one of the demands of being at a top club.”

Image courtesy of MUTV, via YouTube, with thanks

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