So the turning of the coat is complete. Robin Van Persie has forced his move to Man Utd through. Arsenal took him when no one in holland wanted him, nurtured him through successive years of knee injuries on international duty, supported him during his sexual assault charge, didn’t replace him when he was injured which cost us the title in 2008 and possibly 2010, paid him a fortune, made him the captain and built the team to play to his strengths, and after 18 good months he’s strung us along regarding his contract, criticised the management and the club despite the biggest summer spending in 10 years, and burnt his bridges to force a move to one of our 3 main historical rivals. Despite his mother saying he owed Arsenal everything, his father saying he would never play for another English club, his wife not wanting to leave London and his son wanting to play for Arsenal youths.
He can’t really expect Arsenal fans (“you guys”) to take it in good grace. Its like having a mate who you’ve backed in fights, bailed out of prison, lent money too, and housed for years turning round and screwing your sister, your wife and your mother in one weekend before nicking your car and sticking two fingers up as he drives off.
He was on his way to becoming a true club hero. He could have eclipsed Bergkamp, equalled Henry and Wright and been an all-time great. Instead he chose to become the new Frank Stapleton. I hope he enjoys the same subsequent under-achievement as dear old Frank, though it seems unlikely, given the vast difference in Manchester United now compared with then.
It is a strange signing for Ferguson though. Utd are not short of strikers, but last season were awful in central midfield. Kagawa will make a difference in terms of creativity, but not in ball winning or ball retention. Maybe Fletcher’s return to fitness makes Ferguson think he has enough in that position. Or perhaps he intends to use Jones as a midfielder. Or maybe he’s planning to retire soon and just wants one last hurrah.
I will say one thing, through all this the Arsenal Football Club has retained its quiet dignity in a way the ECB can only dream of. They’ve got their business done early, brought in three excellent players at good prices, and according to reports have irons in several other fires. If another potential goalscorer of the quality of Llorente or even Mirallis comes in then the management will still be in the credit column.
This being Arsenal, there are more storm clouds on the horizon, with the whispers of Alex Song to Barcelona slowly turning into shouts despite the player’s public expression of happiness at Arsenal. Personally I hope we keep him, as I think any more transition in the coming weeks would unsettle things too far, and he has improved immeasurably as a footballer in recent years. That said, he does not come into the category of irreplaceable. His improved passing and dribbling have been a slight double edged sword, as his forays forwards have often left the back four over-exposed, especially when without the experience of Arteta alongside him. I like him as a player, but like most Arsenal fans, recent years have left me somewhat with the feeling of the jilted lover, unsure of whether to trust another. That said, a player succumbing to lure of playing in this current Barcelona team is a lot more understandable than rocking up to Manchester. Its not the most pleasant, cosmopolitan or culturally developed city, and it rains as much there as almost anywhere else outside of the tropics. It will be interesting to see how one used to being a dominant voice within Wenger’s somewhat softly softly benevolent dictatorship adjusts to the rather more traditional Ferguson despotism.
Obviously I hope he crashes as burns, as is my right as the broken hearted. It is sad enough when you can see the end coming, in a parade of arguments and separate bedrooms, but when so soon after the whispering of sweet nothings and promises of enduring love, that sadness is consumed by bitterness.