To Gooners everywhere, don’t feel bitter at Robin van Persie’s decision to quit the club. I had hoped that he was someone really special.
It turns out that he’s only human.
I had told colleagues at work that he was leaving and they all laughed it off probably for the human reason of not wanting to hear unsavoury news. But I did add that with him being in the team, new signing Olivier Giroud’s development would be stifled. More on that later.
His calculated analysis of the transfer market, no doubt ably assisted by his agent, is aided by the conclusion of the Netherlands’ largely lacklustre Euro 2012 where he only scored once and looked strangely out of place for most of all three matches in the group stage. Even his own countrymen (whether rightly or otherwise) are calling for his replacement to lead the frontline for the final game. I’m not sure how his future clubs would interpret this but for the average joe like yours truly, it doesn’t sound good and I would think that the captain realized this as well.
Building on his Arsenal CV seemed logical enough and at the back of his mind, it was only about the ‘more money and more trophies’ equation. Don’t let the impression of winning more titles deceive you for a moment that it’s more of a personal satisfaction thing than a financial one. People love trophy-laden heroes and would pay top dollar to crown victors than nearly-men (or losers, if you prefer). A somewhat vague concept that the Arsenal have again and again failed to grasp – offering ‘only’ £130,000 per week to a top player when he could easily obtain higher sums elsewhere. This is what the football world had descended into when Chelski was bought by a certain Russian oligarch. You may well be seething in anger at the mention of Abramovich’s name but he had the money to back up his whims and could do whatever with it as he fancies.
So, with the Oranje hype-building vehicle choking on the pitch at Kharkiv, Ukraine, RvP had lost another chance at boosting his impressive record for inscrutable purposes only best known to himself. The time is right to announce his departure. Not so much in respect of cutting losses but more of striking while the iron is still hot – while potential suitors are still remembering his heroics last season for the club and could still offer a higher wage packet than his current miserly club is able to offer without breaking the bank or other fragile egos within the club. His goals dossier alone should overshadow the large pockets of his career where he was injured and it would be in his interest to capitalize on it as soon as possible.
Van Persie’s claim that “Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward” does injure the club’s reputation somewhat. I’m not sure if it’s a common Dutch disease to be a tad outspoken for their own good but being a little more tactful wouldn’t hurt, coming from the top player and more importantly, the club captain. Now, which self-respecting player would sign for a club that even its own club captain is openly dissing? It’s somewhat disappointing of RvP to do this seeing as the club isn’t really out of the doldrums yet. Maybe Wenger was eyeing RvP’s son a little too much for his own comfort.
RvP’s personal aspirations aside, to the credit of the club I was actually quite boosted by the direction that the Arsenal is currently taking – they have signed Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud early but if that alone does not convince the top striker of the club’s desire to bring in trophies, I’m not sure what would assuage the fans’ consternation at the club’s ambitions. What remained obvious is that Robin had no desire whatsoever to play alongside these new striking options – his mind was already elsewhere: the statement “I personally have had a great season but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days” does sound like he was already planning to leave at the end of the 2011/2012 campaign anyway, with particular emphasis on his personal goal. No amount of new signings or wholesale clearances of deadwood would change his mind and, as everything had panned out, the club won nothing and RvP’s self-fulfilling and self-serving prophecy came true. But for him to now hiss that the club’s direction is flawed after signing two reasonably exciting players reeks of hypocrisy and disingenuousness. From a promising player rescued from Feyenoord, here’s how he repays the club and protecting its image. For this, he’s nowhere near legendary compatriot Dennis Bergkamp who stuck by the Arsenal to the very end as best his aging legs could manage.
(In one of Feyenoord’s last great teams of recent memory during the UEFA Cup 2002 final in De Kuip, Rotterdam: a young van Persie stands in between goalkeeper Edwin Zoetebier and Denmark striker, Jon Dahl Tomasson. In full: (Standing left to right): Bonaventure Kalou, Tomasz Rząsa, Pierre van Hooijdonk, Jon Dahl Tomasson, Robin van Persie, Edwin Zoetebier, (Front row, left to right): Christian Gyan, Shinji Ono, Paul Bosvelt, Patrick Paauwe and Kees van Wonderen)
Of course, Robin’s doubts probably border on the age-old question – whether the new signings could live up to the Gooners’ expectations. I shudder to think of Nicklas Bendtner or Maroune Chamakh leading the front line again. And what is Park Ju-Young really doing as an Arsenal player – why did Wenger even bring him to the club in the first place? I’ve seen Giroud’s videos and liked what I saw whereas Lukas Podolski turned out to be a main star for FC Koln last season but both remained somewhat unknown within the Premier League viewers. In this respect, I do concede that based on his enviable track record, Robin van Persie is irreplaceable – not merely from within the club, but probably from outside as well.
Let’s get the best possible deal that we can for this ‘ambitious’ player and reinvest in the team quickly as the manager sees fit. He’s not a one-man team and never will be. Like the saying goes, there’s no player bigger than the club – no employee bigger than the corporation. For a player so gifted but too often blighted by injury, his presence in the team could be more of a burden than a blessing.
Whether we would now view this guy as another Samir Nasri or treat him warmly like Cesc Fabregas, Robin van Persie should deserve at least an iota of blessing from the people related to the club. His goals did raise us up to 3rd place and his contribution to the side (which could have fell apart from a sore lack of leadership) should not be questioned. He did lead from example by doing what he does best – scoring goals, creating them, whatever.
I’m, however, more concerned with the never-ending trend of our best players leaving the club after one breakthrough season to pastures new and whether the Arsenal is actually well-equipped to compete with the best. If the pressure from other clubs wasn’t the primary cause, then equally, dissatisfaction from within is also equally disturbing.
Still, RvP actually thinks that he is too good for the club.