Manchester United head to Turkey on Thursday hoping to make it three wins in a row in the Europa League group stages. The Reds were defeated on match day 1 against Dutch side Feyenoord but since then have beaten FC Zorya Luhansk and Thursday’s opponents Fenerbahce with both games coming at Old Trafford. Mourinho’s men now face a tough looking trip to Turkey following Saturday’s stalemate against Burnley in the Premier League.
It’s two week’s since United hosted Fenerbahce in what turned out to be an emotional evening for ex-Red Robin van Persie. With Mourinho’s men 4-0 up and cruising, the Dutch striker netted a consolation which saw all corners of Old Trafford applaud the man who pretty much single-handedly won United’s 20th league title back in 2012/13.
The Turkish giants have reacted well to the 4-1 defeat at Old Trafford a couple of weeks ago, they’ve scored six in two league games without reply. United on the other hand got one over on Manchester City in the EFL Cup before drawing at home to Burnley on Saturday. Let’s take a look at some of the connections between the two teams.
Rooney’s Debut Hat-Trick
An 18-year-old Wayne Rooney was making his Manchester United debut under the lights at Old Trafford following his big money move from Everton in the summer of 2004 and Turkish giants Fenerbahce were the visitors in the Champions League. He played without fear and had a couple of goals to his name by the half time whistle as United led 3-0. It got better for the youngster in the second half as he completed his hat-trick with a sweetly struck free-kick. United went on to win 6-2 but Rooney grabbed the headlines. The treble that night were the first in 246 (to date) goals that he would go on to score for the club.
Robin van Persie
It seemed unthinkable that a title challenger could nick a rivals top striker but that’s exactly what Sir Alex Ferguson did when he brought Robin van Persie in from Arsenal in 2012. The Dutchman pretty much single-handedly won the league for the Reds in the season that followed, netting 30 goals in all competitions. Fergie departed Old Trafford in the summer of 2013 and van Persie never really hit the heights under David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal. He joined Fenerbahce last summer and struck a respectable 22 goals in all competitions for the Turkish side. More recently he received a round of applause from the Old Trafford faithful when he scored on his return in a 4-1 defeat last month.
I can’t think of many players who frustrated the home crowd quite like Nani did during his time at Old Trafford. He never seemed to fulfill his potential and spent the early years at the club in the shadows of fellow Portuguese winger Cristiano Ronaldo. When Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid in 2009, it was deemed Nani’s time to step into the limelight but it never really materialised. Nani spent eight years at United before joining Fenerbahce in 2015, he would only stay in Turkey for 12 months though before Spanish side Valencia snapped him up earlier this year.