Man Utd: Sir Alex Ferguson thought Van Persie 'could have been killed' in 2012 incident

  • Kobe Tong

Robin van Persie and Sir Alex Ferguson formed an enviable player-manager partnership at Manchester United.

Fresh from relinquishing the Premier League title to Manchester City in 2012, the legendary coach opened his cheque book to secure the reigning PFA Player of the Year from Arsenal.

In the eyes of Gooners, it remains one of the most controversial transfers in the division's history, but for the Old Trafford faithful, it endures as one of the most important.

Van Persie and Ferguson

That's because Van Persie went on to score a sensational 26 goals to retain the Premier League Golden Boot and inspired United to a 20th league title in Ferguson's final season before retirement.

As such, it wouldn't exactly be surprising to say that Van Persie was involved in plenty of memorable moments during that most bountiful of campaigns - but not all of them were necessarily cheerful.

That's because Van Persie's maiden season with the Red Devils also featured an incident that, in the opinion of his manager, could actually have seen him suffer a serious injury or even pass away.

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Ashley Williams incident

We are, of course, talking about the infamous episode where Swansea City's Ashley Williams kicked the ball against Van Persie's head while he was laid on the ground from incredibly close range.

It was a completely unnecessary move from the Welsh defender and one that duly incensed Van Persie, leading to a fracas between the two groups of players at the Liberty Stadium.

Given the very serious nature of head injuries and trauma in the world of football, it really does make for an uncomfortable rewatch, so be sure to proceed with caution with the footage below: 

'Van Persie is lucky to be alive...'

As many of you will remember, Williams' actions led to an impassioned reaction from Ferguson in his post-match interview with the Scot looking just as emotional as the concerns that he aired.

According to the Guardian, Ferguson told Sky Sports News: "In the Van Persie situation you can clearly see that he could have been killed. 

"The FA has got to look into it regardless that he has been given a yellow card. He should be banned for a long time because that was the most dangerous thing I've seen on a football field for many years.

"It was absolutely deliberate. The whistle has gone, the game has stopped and he has done that right in front of the referee, he could have killed the lad. It was a disgraceful act."

The United legend added in an interview with the BBC: "Robin van Persie is lucky to be alive... Robin could have had a broken neck."

Williams denied any malice in the situation by saying that 'it was a much ado about nothing' at the time, but has since admitted that he apologised to the Dutchman.

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Head blows in football

While Ferguson's assertion that Van Persie could have died have largely been met with mockery in the years since, the nature of blows to the head in football is most certainly not a laughing matter.

It has been incredibly positive to see the amount of research that has been undertaken in recent years regarding the effects of heading on the brain amidst links to conditions such as dementia.

We don't profess to have the medical expertises to corroborate or refute Ferguson's comments, but there can be little denying that Williams' actions were potentially dangerous and certainly needless.



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