July 5, 2012
It’s difficult when you’re seething with anger about something but you’re not entirely sure who to direct that anger at
Yeah, I know, flicking through the news feeds this morning most Gooners have already made up their minds. It’s Van Persie, right? Or Van P£r$ie as he’s now known (no one went for Robbing Van Purse-y, yet? Give it time). And yes I can understand why.
First of all there’s the decision itself. After eight years of nursing Van Persie through injury after injury, of paying for his treatments and his physio and his surgery and also paying his massive wages and getting not a whole lot of football in return, after building a team around his strengths, taking a risk on playing him as the main man, the lone striker, after seeing that gamble pay off and turn him into one of the most sought after talents in world football at the very first opportunity he’s repaying us by jumping ship.
I know there’s no loyalty in modern football. I don’t need to be told that. I am an Arsenal fan after all. I’ve seen my share of disloyalty in recent years but still… As an intelligent man with a supposed love for the club, a settled family in their favourite city and a team that appeared to be finally building something, throwing off the shackles of their financial constraints and purchasing some quality this summer it’s still a huge kick in the teeth.
Of course for most fans the question of whether there’s any scrap of valour in his decision will come down to whether as the statement on his website claimed he really has left because he and the board ‘in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward’ or whether that’s just a convenient smokescreen for the fact that his head has been turned by, as seems increasingly likely at this stage, the vast amounts of money that Manchester City have let him know could be his if he travels that ever more worn path from the Emirates to the Etihad.
Probably what’s wound me up the most is the timing of the announcement. It smacks to me of a man trying to force the club’s hand. For all the talk of respect and love for the club and the fans, publishing a statement on your personal website clearly to the surprise of everybody at Arsenal is not an especially respectful way to conduct your business. It seems clear that having heard the trickle of statements coming out of the club in the last few days confirming our determination to keep him even if it means holding him to the last year of his contract this statement is RVP attempting to force a move.
He’ll know that this makes his position at the club almost untenable. But he’ll also know that this severely weakens the club’s hand when it comes to negotiating a fee for him. The likes of Man City will know that they can sit on their hands until the end of August before offering a low ball offer because Robin has already burnt his bridges with the club so he’s near worthless to us anyway.
So yeah, I suppose I’m pretty angry with RVP. But I’m also pretty angry with the club. The seeds for this were sown a long time ago, before last summer even when Cesc decided that he wanted to play in a team that won trophies and didn’t consider fourth place a satisfactory season. Years of failing to strengthen when we had the chance has led to the situation where we’re continually selling our best players. This summer I thought we’d finally bucked that trend. The signings of Giroud and Podolski supposedly to play alongside Van Persie felt like a real statement of intent. We were taking a leap forward. Now they feel like a kind of rubbish apology. Sorry we failed to hold on to yet another captain and talisman. Have these two slightly inferior players instead. At least you’ve heard of these ones though, right?
I know there’s no competing with the stupid money on offer from the likes of Man City and maybe if I’m angry with anyone it should be the authorities who have allowed this farcical situation to go on for as long as it has. For one club to have so much money that they’re able, on a routine basis, to pick off whatever talent they choose from another club in the league, a club as big and relatively successful as Arsenal no less, shows what a joke this situation has become.
But I can’t help feeling that this is another absolute PR disaster that Arsenal could have avoided. Maybe they couldn’t have avoided a player trying to force his way out of the club but there must have been a more sensible way to handle this. The club was scrabbling around last night putting together a statement reacting to a situation that they surely knew was coming. Van Persie’s dig at Ivan Gazidis being on holiday at the moment suggests that he was less than impressed by the care and attention given to trying to smooth this situation out and while that doesn’t excuse his actions there’s clearly something wrong at a club when for all the respect these players have for the boss they’re still prepared to make us look like absolute idiots in an effort to force their way out.
Arsenal will recover from this. Of course they will. They always do. But in one swift statement we’ve gone from a club who looked like we’d be confidently challenging on all fronts next season to a club that doesn’t have any control over its players, its PR or its own destiny. We need to put that right and soon. We need to be absolutely firm over what to do next. Either we’re keeping Robin to the last year of his contract giving him the choice of sulking in the reserves or shutting his mouth and getting on with his stated goal of trying to win trophies or we’re selling him this week to the very highest bidder.
If it’s the latter we need to follow it up with some decisive moves in the transfer market. We probably won’t find a striker of Van Persie’s quality but we can definitely find a defensive midfielder and an attacking midfielder who can improve our first XI. We responded to the loss of Cesc and Nasri last season by finishing higher in the league than we did when they were here. And that was as a result of the great final day transfer scramble.
Imagine what we could achieve if we had time to react to the inevitable annual sale of our best player.