Fulham’s Andreas Pereira feels at home after Man Utd departure
Andreas Pereira is looking forward to returning to Manchester United on Sunday but it was time to leave over the summer. He was so convinced he needed to continue after 10 years at Old Trafford that he avoided face-to-face discussions with Erik ten Hag for fear the new manager might persuade him to stay with him.
Ten Hag knew all about Pereira from his time as manager at PSV Eindhoven and there have been talks between Football Director John Murtough and Pereira’s representatives about scrutinizing the midfielder during the pre-season tour of Thailand and Australia.
But Pereira resisted the temptation to listen to what Ten Hag had to say and asked instead to leave. He has made his choice and is happy with his decision after six months of regular football in a Fulham side that have surprised in the Premier League so far this season. He returns to Old Trafford for Fulham’s first FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday (Stream live on ESPN+ at 12:30 p.m. ET) in more than a decade.
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“I haven’t spoken to Ten Hag,” Pereira tells ESPN. “I know him because I worked with him at PSV but I was determined and maybe if I spoke to the coach again I would stay. In my head I was like, ‘I have to go, I have to be confident feel and play ‘ and that’s what I did.
“I had a lot of memories at United; good memories, bad memories. I’ve been at the club for 10 years. I arrived when I was 16, so, you know, a little boy. It’s been an amazing ride, but I got onto the stage where I thought maybe it would be best not to stay.
“I wanted to feel more loved and play every game. What Fulham offered me and what [manager] Marco [Silva] offered me, it was the perfect opportunity.”
United staff, who had been at the club long before Ten Hag, were already aware of Pereira’s wayward nature. In 2017 he resisted Jose Mourinho’s desire to stay at the club and instead insisted on joining Valencia on loan. He admitted at the time he was ‘nervous’ about taking on Mourinho but insists he has no regrets.
“It was very good for me because I played a lot of games in different leagues in Spain and Italy,” he says. “I learned a lot of new things that I might not have learned in England. It made me a more complete player. Of course you have the bad side of not staying in one place, but every year I felt good and my goal was to return to Manchester United.”
The temporary move to Valencia was one of four loan spells during his time at Old Trafford, alongside stints at Granada, Lazio and Flamengo. He was so impressive at Flamengo that when United sent scouts to watch Joao Gomes – now at Wolverhampton Wanderers – they reported back that Pereira was the best player on the Brazilian side.
There was interest from clubs in Spain, Italy and Germany last summer but Pereira, now 27, was determined to prove he could thrive in the Premier League. Under Silva he is a vital part of Fulham’s midfield and sits sixth in the league for assists.
“I feel at home here and it’s been great so far,” said Pereira. “When I first came here they told me they were going to go down in the Premier League every year. The main goal was to stay in the Premier League but I spoke to the manager and he told me what he wanted to achieve and how he wanted to achieve it wanted to play.
“He was very ambitious and I really liked that. When we were five games into the season, we realized we could do something great with the team, and it was incredible. He’s very, very strong and he’s a great guy. I enjoyed my football so it was amazing.”
Pereira will be reunited with old friends on Sunday and will face off against old United Academy teammate Marcus Rashford. Like Pereira, Rashford is enjoying his best season as a professional after scoring a career-best 26 goals.
“I’ve known Marcus for a very, very long time,” Pereira said. “He’s a great guy and I think the difference this season is that the manager has shown a lot of faith in him and given him a lot of confidence just by letting him play his game. That’s what he does.”
“He shows what he can do on the pitch, he’s not injured and he’s enjoying every moment. You can see that in the way he plays. It’s not good for us, but we have to try to deal with it.”
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Pereira’s first meeting of the season with United ended in a narrow defeat at Craven Cottage after Alejandro Garnacho scored a last-minute winner before the World Cup break last weekend. Fulham’s form since the restart has them eighth in the table and just three points from the top six.
A win over United would result in their first FA Cup semi-final since 2002 and Pereira believes his new team can shock his old homeland.
“I will have mixed feelings,” said Pereira. “It’s a difficult game but I’m happy to play against Manchester United. It will be the first time I come back and feel this atmosphere. I’ve never been there as a visitor so it will be something new. They have lots of confidence.” .
“They play really, really well, but sometimes when you’re so confident it’s not good. We know we have to work very, very hard to win against them but we will do everything we can and try to play the perfect game. “
https://www.espn.com/soccer/fulham-engfulham/story/4901635/fulham-andreas-pereira-feels-at-home-after-manchester-united-exit Fulham’s Andreas Pereira feels at home after Man Utd departure