Robin van Persie says he could still be playing for Manchester United if Alex Ferguson was still manager at Old Trafford.
The Netherlands international, 33, returns to his former club for the first time since leaving the club for Fenerbahce in July 2015 when the two teams meet in the Europa League on Thursday.
Van Persie scored 58 goals for United across three seasons and won the Premier League in his first season – and sole year under Ferguson – at the club.
The striker went on to play under David Moyes and Louis van Gaal before being sold and he thinks the situation could have been different if Ferguson did not ride off into the sunset in 2013.
“We will never know,” he told reporters when asked what would have happened had Ferguson stayed.
“It could have been that I could have been a player for Manchester United today.
“When I signed that was the idea, that Sir Alex would stay on for a few more years, but in football things change, you can’t plan your own path or your coach’s path.
“Things develop, things change positively and negatively. In this world you have to deal with how it comes and that is what I did.”
However, Van Persie does not want to dwell too much on his United exit and is focused on his responsibilities to Fenerbahce even though he will savour his return to Old Trafford.
He added: “What happened, happened. I don’t think you have to make it bigger than it is.
“You shake hands and move on to the next chapter. I’m not that romantic, thinking, ‘that was the moment’ – I will just do my lap, go in and prepare
“I have to find the right balance of having fun, enjoying the moment of being back here and doing my work.
“I have to try and do my best for Fenerbahce. I have to give my all.”