While speculation mounts that club legend Patrice Evra could be set for a shock emotional return to Old Trafford, one confirmed return of a club legend is that of 44-year-old Jaap Stam, who will take his Reading side to Manchester in the FA Cup this weekend.
Many United fans will count the shock sale of the treble winner to Lazio in 2001 as the biggest mistake of the Sir Alex Ferguson era. The reception the opposing manager will receive in front of the Old Trafford faithful on Saturday will leave the watching Sir Alex in no doubt as to the high regard the supporters hold the Dutchman for his time at the club.
The Championship club have “nothing to lose” as they make the trip to Manchester, with the 20 times Premier League champions currently in sixth position; a far cry from Stam’s time at the club where he won three Premier League titles, an FA Cup and the Champions League.
As quoted in the Daily Express, Stam is looking forward to his return this weekend:
“We’re facing a great team, a great manager.
“I like how he works and what he does for his team, how he gets things going… and the career that he has made, the trophies that he has won.
“We’re not saying we don’t have a chance. Everybody has a chance. But it’s important that we prepare well for the game and hopefully we can do well and enjoy it.”
Stam will take heart in the fact Old Trafford is far from the fortress it once was and will also have taken note of the Middlesbrough performance last week, where they led Mourinho’s men for 85 minutes before their quality won out.
“We’ve got nothing to lose when we play there. We don’t want to give the tie up – we will work very hard and we are going to fight for it.
“And there is no need for the players to get nervous because of the crowd or the game – they need to enjoy it.
“Obviously, you enjoy it much more if you get a result but this is an opportunity for the players, the team, the club to show themselves to the world in what we are trying to do here.”
Damien McEvoy, Pundit Arena
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