Manchester United embark in their penultimate Europa League group game when they welcome Dutch side Feyenoord to Old Trafford on Thursday evening. The Reds currently sit third in Group A after their defeat at Fenerbahce last time out but a win over the Eredivisie leaders on Thursday would put them in a commanding position to qualify with one game remaining (Zorya Luhansk away next month). The Europa League has been somewhat of a mixed bag for United so far, they’ve been beaten on both away trips (Feyenoord 1-0 and Fenerbahce 2-1) and only just beat Russian minnows Zorya Luhansk 1-0 at Old Trafford. They did however put in a dominant display in the home tie against Turkish side Fenerbahce, beating them 4-1.
United were dealt a huge blow at the weekend when Olivier Giroud found the net late on to steal a point for Arsenal who were totally dominated from start to finish. The result means the Reds lie sixth in the league table, 6 points off fourth place and a huge nine points adrift of leaders Chelsea. Feyenoord on the other hand have had a slightly better start to their domestic campaign and currently top the Eredivisie, having lost just one of their thirteen matches.
Despite being European giants throughout history, trying to find players who link the two sides is quite difficult. Let’s take a look at a couple of men who have represented both sides, starting with a Dutch striker who started his career at Feyenoord.
Robin van Persie
Experienced striker Robin van Persie began his career at Feyenoord after coming through their youth system as a teenager. He hit 22 goals for the Dutch side in 78 appearances in all competitions before moving to Arsenal as a 20-year-old. Van Persie spent eight years in the capital before Sir Alex Ferguson swooped in for the Dutchman in the summer of 2012. He hit 58 goals in 105 appearances for the Reds, including 30 which came in an incredible debut season for van Persie, who almost single-handedly won United’s 20th top-flight title during the 2012/13 campaign.
In present day, the Reds are blessed with having a Swedish goalscoring machine in the shape of Zlatan Ibrahimovic however Zlatan wasn’t the first legendary Swede to turn out at Old Trafford. That accolade belongs to Henrik Larsson, who was signed on loan during the 2006/07 season. He started his career in his native Sweden before moving to Feyenoord aged 22. He spent the majority of his career at Celtic with a couple of seasons at Barcelona as well before joining the Reds on loan from Helsingborg in 2007. He scored three goals in 13 appearances for United as they lifted the Premier League crown that season and despite not playing enough games to warrant a medal, Sir Alex Ferguson ensured he got one.
1991 European Cup Winners’ Cup
For those of you that don’t know, the European Cup Winner’s Cup was a competition contested by the winners of each domestic trophy in each European country. The Reds reached the final having qualified for the tournament after lifting the 1990 FA Cup and they were to face Spanish giants Barcelona at Feyenoord Stadium in Rotterdam. Two quick-fire goals from Mark Hughes gave United a 2-0 second-half lead before current Everton boss Ronald Koeman halved the deficit with 10 minutes remaining. The Reds hung on to earn Sir Alex Ferguson his first European trophy.