I’ve been away for a few weeks, busy getting married and enjoying my honeymoon, so while I am in mood which could be described as Jamie Redknapp would put it, “literally over the moon”, I’ve also had ample time to digest and take in the events over the last few weeks, from a distance anyway.
Firstly our captain, Robin van Persie.
Looking at supporter opinion, it’s clear the vast majority of people hate Robin, call him a traitor (among other things) and someone that had one good season and has thrown Arsene’s loyalty to him in his face.
Personally speaking, Robin van Persie was a player I loved, I’m not ashamed to admit it. He was dedicated to the cause, gave 110% every time he wore the Arsenal shirt and I loved him because unlike others at the Colney Creche, he cared. He showed it every time he scored. I’ve said one of our biggest problems was not having players that were winners, that cared enough. We’ve only had a handful of winners over the last few years; Cesc, Vermaelen, Nasri and Van Persie. Every time they scored a goal, they went mental. You can tell how a player is when they reacted to scoring an important goal and those players f*cking loved it. But season after season, we ended up trophy-less.
The problem is Arsene heavily relies on loyalty but that’s not enough. Players want to win things and while people will argue van Persie only moved for the money, who else in their right mind would turn down 2 or 3 times their annual wage? And surely Arsenal would be able to pay the top wages if they didn’t reward mediocre players (like Bendtner, Vela, Diaby and the other dead wood) with ridiculous contracts. These players have won f*ck all but get paid stupid money. The gap in wages that top players like Cesc and van Persie were on compared to other squad members like Bendtner was too small.
I don’t blame RVP one bit for moving. Like it or not, Manchester United prove they can compete for the title year after year, and have done for the last 20-odd years. Who wouldn’t want to move there? Clichy and Nasri moved last season and what happened? They won the Premier League. Cesc left and won trophies as well. We lose our best talent season after season, because for some ridiculous reason we let our top players run down their contracts.
Arsene Wenger is not stupid. He obviously wants to sell these players and keep earning a profit every summer. He spouts things like “We want to keep our best players” and then does the exact opposite. He points to players “wanting to leave” but never addresses why this is the case. It’s because we never compete and 4th place will do for us. Top professionals and winners don’t want this. Cesc even took a pay cut to leave Arsenal so he didn’t leave for the money. The fans are fed up with the lack of trophies so why wouldn’t the players?
Van Persie engineered a move because he’d had enough. But does anyone ask why players want to leave? I tell you one thing, if Arsenal were winning trophies and being competitive then there wouldn’t be a question about whether they wanted to leave or not. And now Alex Song is doing the same.
Loyalty is a two way street. Van Persie has been at Arsenal for 8 seasons and only won the FA Cup. He’s 29 and doesn’t see Arsenal winning anything anytime soon. So why shouldn’t he move? If he had assurances we’d compete then he would have stayed, but selling Song isn’t exactly doing that. He’s seen Clichy, Cesc and Nasri all have success elsewhere and wants some of the glory.
Song leaving is also very disappointing. Along with Arteta and van Persie he was one of our best performers last season. You can dismiss his contribution just because he’s forced a move away – he was an important player for us. He made mistakes but created so many chances for vital goals last year and was improving all the time.
We are now selling players at their peak and the anger is always aimed at the players and not the club, which is something I find strange. Why is no-one addressing the reason why they want to leave? You can’t just label all of them mercenaries and gold diggers can you?
We’ve lost van Persie and Song, and brought in Cazorla, Podolski and Giroud. They are decent acquisitions but we can’t keep bringing in new talent then losing others. It’s a vicious circle and we need to build year on year, instead of being at the same level every season. I have no doubt we will do well in patches this season and a Top 4 finish is probably realistic.
But Arsenal’s fans and players want that bit more.