Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Are We Being Left Behind? Robin van Persie and Manchester United.

I started watching football, and supporting Arsenal, in the early 90s. My first footballing memories are of us winning the league in 1991, followed by the cups that we won in the following years. But, I suppose more than anything, I was a child of two domestic football trends: the birth and subsequent explosive popularity of the Premier League, and the dominance of Manchester United of English football.

After our triumph in '91, every year seemed to be marked by Manchester United winning the league (it seemed). I have no affinity to Blackburn whatsoever, but I, like many others I assume, almost celebrated their league triumph in '95, as it seemed to break the monotony of United's inevitable league championships.

United's dominance manifested itself in other ways. They were the preferred choice of most school kids, who, thanks to Sky, were suddenly able to watch tons of United games while safely ensconced miles away from Manchester. I suppose most of these kids now support City or Chelsea, or maybe even Barca, but they were all United in the 90s.

To cut a rambling introduction short, I grew up hating Manchester United. Much more than Spurs -  who, let's face it, we've hated for almost old time's sake for most of the last twenty years. Before Arsene arrived, United were the annoying oversuccessful team that won fucking everything; and, after Arsene arrived, United became our fiercest rivals in a series of compelling league championships. And then, just as it seemed that we'd finally destroyed Fergie and his evil minions in 2004, along came Chelsea's petrodollars and the expense of our new stadium. We subsequently disappeared from the pack of serious title challengers, while United regrouped and came back, if anything, even stronger.

While Chelsea may have replaced United as the opposing team that I now detest the most, you can never fully jettison the raw emotions of childhood, and the games with United are still probably the two I dread/look forward to most each year.

So, the prospect of selling our best players to United hurts. Chelsea and City? Well, we can ascribe it to pure greed. But with United, there is the undeniable tinge of pain that comes from a broader realization - we've been left behind. Even with all the debt that the Glazers have put onto United, they have seriously competed for the league title, and even won it, in the years since petrodollars became a factor in the Premier League. We, on the other hand, have dabbled with a failed youth project, and now face a yearly saga in which our best players want to leave once they've lined up a sufficient number of potential suitors. And they want to leave not just because of the money, but because, to put in bluntly, we've stopped winning trophies. We can try and pretend it away through accusations of greed - and this is a huge factor, obviously - but players want to win stuff, and we haven't been able to seriously offer them that in recent years.

Selling Robin van Persie makes sense on a number of levels - many of which I've outlined here. In short, he's old, injury prone, and he's never going to have a season as good as he had last year. (7AM Kickoff has the stats somewhere, but, basically, it's very rare for Golden Boot winners to score anywhere the same level of goals in the next season.) If we are to be rational economists about this, we should sell at the peak value of our asset, especially when we are offered 22m + 2m potential add-ons.

But, we're football fans, and hence irrational. To me, today marked a potentially sad day in the club's history. It's one thing for Cesc and Thierry to go to Barca; it's another for us to sell our best player to a team we used to rival for the league, but who have left us in their dust.

Hopefully, this is an absurdly over-pessimistic interpretation of events. But I can't help but feel a bit down after they events today. Despite our signings thus far this summer, it still feels like we've taken a step back after taking a few tentative steps forward. I suppose we'll see where we are on August 31st, and then in May 2013, but I hope, at the very least, that the club reinvest this money in the squad, rather than just bank it, as they have been inclined to do so in recent years. If not, our entrenchment as a second-tier team within the Premier League will continue, and events like today will become the norm, rather than the exception.


goatee man said...

Great write up - could not agree more.

San said...

Very true. Its a shame seeing our best players leave each year.

VOXSPORTS Singapore said...

Hi Goonerboy,

Great post and here in Singapore, the sentiments are about the same.

However, some of us think that this is a necessary move as his presence may have destabilised the team further. Remember the problems that Toure and Gallas had off the pitch that rattled the defense? Though of a different nature, this will have the same ramifications. RVP was never going to sign a new contract and it was clear from the start. 22 million for a man who is probably getting past his prime is a good deal.

What irks us the most is not the sale but whether or not this money will be used for "proper" purposes. All of you Gunner fans out there will know what we mean by this.

To be honest, with the sale of Fab, Nasri, RVP and potentially even Song, we could have made replacements that have true quality but the business sense of it sometimes dominates the minds of the Arsenal board, making it hard to justify further spending.

Its never easy to spend money but at the same time, its never easy to say no to a transfer that yields 22 million for a 29 year old man. As fans, we can only wish him the best.

RVP still needs to remember that it was the service from the midfield and wingers that made him the Golden Boot Winner he is today. How easy people forget when the egos and pride get to their head.

Again, we're not too upset at the sale of RVP but we're absolutely furious about how Barca are trying to tap up Song (as usual, these bastards have no friggin integrity)

Good article mate, well written.

VOXSPORTS Singapore Editorial Team

GuateGooner said...

Great read, trying to stay optimistic.

A Gooner in exile.

Andy. Guatemala.

Goons_with_Guns said...


Sold to Manure, not because he was sold.

That's what happens when the American Kronke comes to make a profit, not caring if we have trophies. He never won trophies with ANY of his American sport teams. Never. But almost always made a profit.

He and the rest of the Board forgets that you need to win trophies to justify the highest ticket prices in the country.

I certainly won't renew.

Goons_with_Guns said...


Sold to Manure, not because he was sold.

That's what happens when the American Kronke comes to make a profit, not caring if we have trophies. He never won trophies with ANY of his American sport teams. Never. But almost always made a profit.

He and the rest of the Board forgets that you need to win trophies to justify the highest ticket prices in the country.

I certainly won't renew.

akm said...

never presume to speak for other Singaporeans.

akm said...

VOXSPORTS, whoever you are, or whatever you are, never presume to speak for other Singaporeans. I don't recall nominating you as my mouthpiece..

Football is never rational. Up to the end, I was hoping VP will give us another good season and assess again thereafter. With him on top of our excellent attacking additions this summer, we had a good shot at the title.

Anonymous said...

RVP today, Nasri, Adebayor, Toure, Clichy sold since 2009, who is next to be sold to rivals?
AOC and Wilshere and anyone else the club can make a profit on.
Arsenal FC are a selling club who develop players in order to sell them for a profit and dont care who they sell to as long as they get the money.
Kroenke is an asset stripping parasite like the rest of the Board.
My family have had enough - 3 of us are giving up our season tickets and wont be back while this regime continues.

Shaun B said...

What planet are you people on, If clubs are going to run at a loss of upto 200 million a year to win the leauge then let them, This is nothing we have not seen before just look at iItaly in the 1990's. We watch cracking football in a fantastic ground and if it wasn't for some disasterouse injuries we would have had another 2 leauge titles in the last 7 years. Count your blessings.

Anonymous said...

I think the sale to MANU is a disgrace…no in fact its an OUTRAGEUOS thing to do….can you imagine MANU selling Rooney to US….it would never happen Utd are a Big club in all senses of teh word…. I thought we were but this proves me wrong!!

Anonymous said...

@shaun b

I care. I am an arsenal fan not an accountant.
The history books name the winner not the team that take the moral high ground

Anonymous said...

If Wenger can win the epl come May 2013,RVP ill be forgotten.If the gunners fail to compete and RVP helps red faced to the cl and epl trophies,there will be repercussions.
First Wenger's position will be untenable. He has the chance to show he is right by winning preferably th epl and FA in that order.
Btw please imprve the defence. otherwise Arsenal could be let down by a dodgy defence on the trophy trail.Get that right and everything will fit in like a jig saw puzzle.

James said...

Lets all calm down look in the mirror and be honest, When we looked at our squad we had over the past 7 years with players like RVP, Cesc, Gallas, Toure, Adebeyor (a player who left arsenal scoring 30 goals and hasnt reached 15 since) Nasri, Clichy, Song and Denilson or aka the ALSO-RANS they have almost all gone we have a completely revamped squad.

Last season i noticed a massive change in the teams attitude, they got their fight back. We apparently lost our 2 best players ,but finished higher in the league than when we had em because we lost 2 good players but we bought people who will die on the field for us. For e.g when Villa came to the grove went 2-0 up in the cup other seasons we would have lost that match but we won it.

The season before when we were challenging UTD for the title only to see our threat fade because these so called Class players had no bottle in the last 10 games losing to weaker opposition when it mattered most.

those players have gone the future is Sceszny, Sagna, Vemaelen, Koscielny, Mertesaker, Gibbs, Arteta, Wilshere, Ramsey, Diaby (please stay fit and prove to everyone how good you are)Cazorla, Chamberlain, Gervinho, Walcott, Geroud and Podolski. Ok admittedly still 2 signings away from complete but that squad looks so good and not a so called ALSO-RAN in sight lets hope the new
Aresenal generation can show the guys who left how to do it . And i tell you all know im reaqdy to support them every step of the way!