Now the dust has settled on van Persie’s move to United, it’s much easier to see the contribution that he made to the club.
He was here 8 years, and that is not something to take lightly. When you consider how long a players career actually is, 8 seasons is a massive chunk of that. And every time RVP wore the shirt he gave 110%. He didn’t sulk or stroll around the pitch like did Adebayor for example.
For me, RVP is in the same category as Cesc or Clichy. They’re not quite the legendary status of Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp or Thierry Henry, but up there with some of the best players we’ve ever had like Bobby, Freddie and Ashley Cole.
I’ve never really understood the fan’s obsession about how players behaved behind the scenes. We live in a world with 24 hour news updates and every little detail is reviewed over and over again. How do we know how Maradona or Pele were behind closed doors? They could have been complete arseholes for all we know, it doesn’t take away the fact they were some of the greatest footballers we’ve ever seen.
And that’s my point. I prefer to objectively see what a player does on the pitch, and Robin was a model professional and gave everything for the club while he was here.
Footballer’s come and go all the time. The reason why so many Arsenal fans are hurting is because players are leaving at their peak, and the replacements we bring in aren’t up to the same standard. We’ve lost Clichy, Nasri, Song, Cesc and RVP in the last year and they will go on and win trophies at their new clubs. You can say whatever you like about those players, they are top quality and will be successful in the seasons to come.
If RVP committed himself to the club this summer, the opinion of him with Arsenal fans would have been completely different. But I haven’t changed mine just because he’s gone. He was one of my favourite players because he cared and he was a winner. You could see it every time he scored a goal, you could see it every time he went in for a tackle and in the interviews he gave. He completely immersed himself into Arsenal, and I’d always smile when he talked in his Dutch/Cockney accent.
He scored some simply phenomenal goals over the previous 8 seasons against some of the world’s biggest clubs. He scored some truly memorable goals against Chelsea, Barcelona, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham in his time here and apart from that, he would defend the team, getting into countless scuffles with opposing teams players. There’s no doubting his commitment when he was here.
Who knows what happened off the pitch? We don’t know everything and for all we know he is not the villain in all of this. But coming back to my point, to me that’s irrelevant. Whatever the circumstances of him moving on, we should judge how he performed when he wore the red and white of Arsenal.
And in the previous 8 seasons, it was exemplary.
When he was unveiled at Manchester United, with Alex Ferguson sitting next to him, van Persie stated:
“I would like to start with thanking Arsenal Football Club and Mr Wenger for the last 8 years, because the last 8 years have been part of my history, my life.
“They have always been good to me, so I would like to thank Mr Wenger, the players [and] the fans for all their help, the technical stuff involved with Arsenal because as I said they have always been great to me and I look back on a positive note to the last 8 years.”
After watching the actual press conference, you could see that Robin was completely sincere in everything he said about Arsenal and this was made even more so by the fact Fergie looked uncomfortable at van Persie’s praise for his long-time arch rival.
Did he have to say that? Of course he didn’t. With his stock with Arsenal fans you might argue the speech was pointless? But maybe he does actually care about the club he spent the last 8 years of his life with.
You see all kinds of quotes being banded around which are twisted and used by the newspapers to create an issue when there isn’t. His official statement on his website was dissected at great length but why can’t any of it be true?
Is it completely inconceivable that RVP loves Arsenal? And is it inconceivable that he’s tried to win things with Arsenal but feels like there isn’t enough quality around him to make that happen? What is he expected to think when Adebayor, Nasri, Clichy, Cesc and others go off to pastures new and win things?
Loyalty is important but how about the clubs loyalty to their players? Isn’t there a responsibility for the club and the manager to equip the team with the right players to at least compete?
It is an unwritten fact that 4th spot is good enough for Arsenal. And for the last 7 seasons at least, most Arsenal fans haven’t been happy with the transfer activity during those summers and the loss of our big name players. Some fans will argue “good riddance” as none of these players were good enough to win anything when they were here.
But isn’t this because the squad and team wasn’t good enough? You can’t pinpoint people like Cesc, RVP and Adebayor as not being good enough. We all know the weaknesses in the team but they have never been addressed over the last 7 years. We’ve been close to having a good enough team but for whatever reason – financial constraints or the managers stubbornness to admit the teams failings – we’ve just been that bit short. For a few seasons, we genuinely competed, highlighted with the season Eduardo and Adebayor were electric form until Taylor de-railed our season.
Since then though we’ve been also-rans. It’s the same old story – we are just about good enough to clinch 4th spot, occasionally 3rd.
So having winners like Robin van Persie who want more is hardly the heinous of crimes.
For the last few summers, the main topic of conversation between Gooners was how Arsene wasn’t doing enough or signing the right players to allow Arsenal to compete. Need I remind you of the signings of Squillaci, Gervinho, Chamakh, Park, Bischoff and Silvestre? Suddenly, the question isn’t why aren’t Arsenal doing enough to compete or addressing the key weaknesses, but the focus has turned to these villainous mercenaries such as Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor and Robin van Persie who are “disrespecting” Arsenal and Arsene Wenger.
Maybe we shouldn’t forget the real problems at Arsenal. You ask why do we always allow our best players to run their contacts down till their last year? It’s because we’re a selling club and it’s the easiest way to sell our top players at top prices, without the outrage from the fans. Arsenal can hide behind this “he wanted to leave” rubbish while pocketing the money time and time again.
A clever system that fools almost everyone.