Remember the time when you touched that hot cup, hoping it wasn’t hot or tasted the week-long milk from your fridge, hoping it hadn’t turned sour but eventually it did? Or the time when you printed your hero’s name on the back of your shirt and they moved on for greener pastures the next season? My point is, hope has killed you enough, hasn’t it? If it hasn’t yet, then you have just been taught a lesson from our very own Robin van Persie.
Now, Gooners and all non-Gooners, you might have already got the news. Yes yes, van Persie won’t be renewing his contract with Arsenal, having a year left. Honest to God, I’d really hate tomorrow morning. Mostly because I’ll wake up to see my timeline getting flooded with disgusting memes. These guys are fast. Phew!
Anyway, coming back to the point of sour milk and hot coffee cups, let me ask you a simple question: didn’t you expect this? Going round and round with the contract talks, like a cheap merry go round. Or Wenger signing two “big name” strikers even before the transfer window opens – that was a no brainer guys. (Note: If someone was to sign a contract, he would have done it right away. I have lost count the number of times I have waken up to headlines such as: “Diaby pens a 15 year contract”, “Denilson signs 40 year contract extension”, when the very night before, I swear I saw them uploading their pictures on a beach somewhere in Spain)
Now let me tell what I actually feel about this whole saga. Point number one: I am glad its over. All you guys blaming the board should really take a step back. Last season was an eye-opener for many of us when the smell of money and Catalunya’s beauties was too strong for two guys. A terrible summer led to a terrible season opener, as we decided to do everything at the very last moment (although, I am pretty sure Arteta’s signing was after the window closed). However, bringing in two top strikers so early gets a big thumbs up from me.
Now, after that, anyone saying van Persie won’t be missed is stupid. 30+ goals in a season is something special. He made Walcott’s crosses world-class and converted Song’s lobs into wonderful assists. I don’t think it’s quite possible to directly replace him, just as there was no one to replace Fabregas directly. Van Persie has always been class. The very first goal I remember him scoring for us was against Blackburn. It was from an impossible angle and you could see right there that here was a man who oozed class. Well, that ‘class’ was very sporadic and inconsistent in his first eight years at the club. Mostly because of the injuries which never left him. Although, I always thought he was unlucky with injuries – picking up knocks from international duties that would sideline him for months.
I also remember the last time Robin signed a contract with us. It was in 2009. And I quote: “If you look at the last five years, look at the steps I have made every season, if you look at the support the boss and the whole club gave me, the fans gave me, my team-mates gave me – this is the right decision.” Yes, the club stood by him. We, the fans stood by him. Playing 15 games a season was his norm and he would spend most of the time in the injury table (Hell, Arsene even got him Diaby to keep him company there!) and with a secured contract he never had to worry about not getting paid. Well, some people might call it investment on a top-class player. But come to think of it now, we have been really bad investors – investing for seven years for one good season.
I don’t think that the whole van Persie saga leaves us heartbroken and betrayed. I think it gives us perspective. It’s sad what footballers have come to these days. I can’t even imagine this, say five to ten years ago. I remember someone saying, “Well, I hate our players for not loving my club, as I do.” From a players’ perspective it’s all natural. Leaving clubs, changing suitors – they are after all professional players and all clubs make sure that they don’t get affected by fans’ abuses by hiring football psychologists and what not. From an Arsenal point of view, I don’t see much harm. If you look at the business end – getting about €20m (although I seriously doubt it) for a player who is 29 and has only one year left on his contract is terrific. Also, that’s one more of the ‘non-committed players’ off the board, but it’s the fans who suffer. One night we are singing, “Robin van Persie: He scores when he wants” and the other night, we are imagining him in a Manchester City shirt – this is the stuff that nightmares are made of. On one day we hear van Persie talking about how great life is at Arsenal and the next moment we see a cheesy, “Well, I am leaving” message on his website. Makes you think, if he had a good, injury-free season some years ago, he would have left a long time ago. Times like this puts things into perspective. “Ambition for trophies” is a phrase that is used too often and too nonchalantly these days.
Putting up a message like that on your website and taking the Arsenal board by surprise is not a great example of class. For me, it was just a way to attract clubs after a disappointing time at the Euros. And considering Juventus making a laughable 8m offer for him, it surely had got him thinking. However, I am not blaming van Perise. I am in a way blaming us, the fans – the hopeless romantics for creating demi-God statures, when, lets face it, most of them aren’t worth it. But maybe, even the darkest of clouds have a silver lining. Well, look no further than Arsene Wenger. You got to feel sorry for him. Maybe he is to blame after all, for making us hope, that like him, all of his signings will stick by.
Or maybe sometimes, the best thing is to just be glad to put YOUR name at the back of the shirt – no one will love your club more than you do. Players come and players go, but it’s the cannon on that chest that matters. Come on you Gooners!