“Play for the name on the front of the shirt, and they’ll remember the name on the back.” said Tony Adams.
Gone are the days when players actually did that. As football fans, we’ve had our fair share of egos bursting out, players putting on pounds – to their head – and of course, the ones who toy with the club and the fans’ emotions. But of course, players denying their manager’s claims and as people today would say, “trolling” the manager, seems to have become the latest trend. And none more obvious than in the case of Arsene Wenger.
Monsieur Wenger, frankly, is no stranger to the recent RvP saga; he’s been through it throughout his time at Arsenal.
On April 6th 2007, he said, “It’s not an issue because I had a chat with Thierry Henry. He is clear he wants to stay, I am clear I want him to stay. It’s not an issue at all. That is a story that has been created by somebody, not by our club and not by Henry because we are both on the same wavelength.”
And then, a month and a half later, Henry joins Barcelona and says that he always wanted to join the club and that it is an honour to do so.
In 2011, Wenger told in a press-con that he is ‘absolutely positive’ that neither Fabregas nor Nasri would leave the Emirates. Both of them ended up doing so.
And more recently, Wenger said that Arsenal’s hopes next season would depend on van Persie and he knew that the Dutchman’s heart is at the Emirates and he would never want to leave.
A mere 2 weeks and a dismal Euro 2012 later, van Persie has given an ‘update’ to the fans saying he would not be extending his contract. He might as well have said he wanted to drop a bombshell.
Quite obviously, each time the then-captain (Vieira, Henry, Fabregas, RvP) leaves or announces his leaving, a lot of personalities all around the club and the management get hurt, least to say the manager who backs them throughout their ups, downs, failures and injuries. The bare fact, the stark reality of it all is that there is a basic fundamental difference between what the fans want and what the management requires itself to do.
Arsenal seem to be a club wavering in the space between two different worlds – the “kingmakers” and the “kings”.
The Kingmaker Universe consists of clubs like Udinese, Lille, Porto and Valencia. Clubs which have been resigned to losing their best players to bigger clubs, thus “creating” the king. These clubs sell players time and time again and yet, find a new pool of talent to keep them competitive at the top level in their leagues and even in Europe. Porto have received over 200 million over the past decade or so in transfer fees only. Arsenal more or less have been doing the same. After losing their captain and a key player last season, it would suffice to say they came back as spirited as ever, even though it spurred Wenger to sign a record five signings in five hours. Count on us, it IS a miracle. They finished third in what was a two-horse race for the majority of the season and that too after their worst start to a campaign.
The “problem” arises here. Arsenal have become accustomed to producing wonderful youth talents and promoting them, expecting nothing but loyalty in return. However, the players beg to differ and Arsenal, after seeing this time and time again have, I guess, become accustomed to it. The management and board knows that at Arsenal, there really is only one man you can trust and the man goes by the name of Arsene Wenger. They know that even if the worst happens in the transfer window, Wenger will always lead them on to a respectable finish at the top of the table while simultaneously playing a brand of free-flowing, elegant and fast football.
The fans, on the other hand, want silverware and badly. In a time where even Liverpool have broken their drought, Chelsea have won more Champions League trophies than them, and Man City are fast adding to their collection, Arsenal fans have every right to want silverware. But they have to understand that the club is doing its best to win. It’s not easy coming back after losing your best player(s). But what annoys the fans is that it’s not just one summer – it happens nearly every summer. For all the nonsense people throw about Arsenal not spending enough on players, Arsenal spent £90million on players and wages last season. Coming from a Chelsea fan, spending £200 million every season is not using the bank, it is abusing the bank. Every single penny Arsenal put into their youth academies – not only in England, but all around the world, in the US, Singapore, etc, is reaping huge benefits. If only these players remain loyal, Arsenal would not need to spend big money at all; their youth system would have it all.
Without beating around the bush, Arsene Wenger himself says it, “Imagine the worst situation – we lose Fabregas and Nasri – you cannot convince people you are ambitious after that. You talk about Fabregas leaving, Nasri leaving. If you give that message out, you cannot pretend you are a big club, because a big club, first of all, holds onto its big players and gives a message out to all the other big clubs that they just cannot come in and take away from you. We worked very hard with these players for years to develop them, and now it’s a time for us to keep them together.”
The irony in this situation is quite funny to say the least. Podolski and Giroud arrive at the club to win trophies. The same reason for which the likes of Samir Nasri and Fabregas left and the same reason for which Robin van Persie seems to be leaving.
Vieira left, they got over him, up came Fabregas. Henry left, they got over him, up rose Adebayor. Reyes left, they got over him, up came Walcott. Gallas left, they got over him, up rose Koscielny. Adebayor left, up came Robin van Persie. Fabregas left, they got over him, up comes Jack Wilshere. Nasri left, they got over him, up came Oxlade-Chamberlain. And the cycle will go on. The fact will remain. If Robin van Persie leaves, they WILL get over him and a new player WILL rise. That simply is Arsene Wenger’s Army. That, simply is, Arsenal Football Club.