Part 2/2 of “is RVP a cunt?”
Within this article I’ll play devils advocate to try and appreciate the motives of Van Persie without the clouded logic of a fan.
I don’t think it will come as a surprise that money is likely the main motive. Robin has acted shrewdly in releasing his mutinous open letter masquerading as a “fan update”. It looks like a transfer request, it feels like a transfer request, and it will do the job of a transfer request. But the crucial point is that RVP has not made an official transfer request, so is still entitled to the lucrative signing on fee at his new club. By releasing his cleverly disguised transfer request he has made his position clear, he wants away immediately and so his transfer fee will be slashed as clubs realise that Arsenal are between a cock and a hard place. They can keep a player who has been openly critical of the direction of the club, effectively criticising the quality of his team mates, for the final year of his contract. This would be a huge blow to club morale and risks causing a rift in the club between players close to Robin and those loyal to Arsenal. It would also mean that Arsenal receive absolutely no fee for Robin as he leaves on a free at the end of a disruptive final season. This method is clearly completely unfeasible, although the comedy value of watching Frimpong pummel “DEEEENCH” into Robins car with his bare hands should not be discounted. The far more likely option is that Arsenal will accept the reduced fee, and bid farewell to Van Persie as he moves on in pursuit of riches and glory.
While the (likely) money oriented actions of Van Persie may seem reprehensible to fans, it may be that we would feel differently if the sums of money discussed were actually offered to us. It’s easy to talk about how important it is to stay loyal and to have integrity when you don’t have to sacrifice one hundred thousand pounds a week to do so. For the vast majority of fans, earning one hundred thousand pounds a year is an unrealistic ambition. Now imagine having to sacrifice 52 times that, every year, just so people you don’t know will praise your loyalty. To put this into context, by staying at Arsenal, Van Persie would likely be missing out on at least double the lifetime earnings of an average UK citizen every year. And yes, he’s unlikely to qualify for benefits if he decides to stay on the ‘meagre’ wages on offer at Arsenal, but it’s equally unlikely that any member of his family will ever earn anywhere near the money he’s currently on. At 28 (coming on 29) with, realistically, 4 lucrative years of football remaining, he may feel the pressure to earn the sums of money which would enable his children, and even future grandchildren, to live without any financial difficulties whatsoever.
The other possible motive would be the desire for glory seemingly unattainable at Arsenal. In his debut season Van Persie won all the honours he would ever win with Arsenal. Making his debut as a substitute in the Community Shield and then contributing in the successful FA cup campaign of 04-05, coming off the bench in the 82nd minute to score two goals against Blackburn in the semi final and also coming off the bench for the final against Manchester United. To taste success instantly, then realise over the coming years that repeating that same success is slowly becoming less and less likely must be incredibly frustrating. Particularly when international team mates, Robben and Sneijder are tasting glory at the highest level. Between them they have won; the Eredivisie, Bundesliga, Serie A, La Liga, Premier league, all respective cups and the “highest prize in club football” the Champions League. Yet all Van Persie has to show for 7 seasons at Arsenal is an FA cup medal from a competition where he was largely deployed as a substitute, and a meaningless Community Shield medal.
Of course the peculiar thing about players complaining about droughts of success is that they never seem to accept responsibility for the drought. As pointed out by @7amkickoff, in the season of 05-06 Arsenal were just 4 points from taking the league from Manchester United. Yet due to injuries Van Persie featured in just 15 league games, completing the full 90 minutes only twice in the entire season. Would his input have been sufficient to push Arsenal over the threshold? Likewise in the season of 10-11 when an injury from international duty led to him playing more games for the Dutch national team than Arsenal. Add this to the fact that half of all Van Persie’s league goals have been scored since 2011, with this season the first time he’s breached the 20 league goal mark, and you have to question whether Robin can exclude himself from the underachieving Arsenal of recent years. One and a half magnificent seasons out of seven is hardly a good return on Arsenals investment.
As mentioned at the start, I was merely playing devils advocate here. For Van Persie to jump ship as soon as he’s actually started to fulfill his potential is infuriating. With the fact that it almost certainly cements Arsenals status as a stepping stone for promising players on their path to the elite teams of Europe making it a particularly bitter pill to swallow. As for the glory he may go on to achieve at his likely destination of the Etihad, it will surely be tainted by the fact that it was not achieved with Arsenal. It wasn’t achieved at the team who almost completely shaped him as a player, a team surrounded by people who were there for him when he was misfiring and injury prone, and a team where he had achieved almost messianic status with the clubs fans. When he achieves his future success he will be surrounded by a team of mercenaries and a coaching staff who only “risked” taking a chance on him after he was already the Premier League’s top scorer and available at a cut price fee. The fans will love him like they love a new games console. A shiny trinket which they’ll enjoy for the next two years, until it’s obsolete and they toss it onto the scrap heap.
By staying at Arsenal he would definitely have been sacrificing a huge amount of money, and would be unlikely to achieve much, if any, success. But he could have put an end to the “feeder club” status and convince the other young stars to stay with him, he would have repaid the constant faith shown in him by Wenger and the rest of the coaching staff, and he would almost certainly have been cast in bronze outside Ashburton Grove on his retirement. It’s a shame he didn’t feel this would be in his interest and while I wish him no ill will, I’d be quite happy if I never heard of him again.
It has been pointed out to me that, while providing both arguments I didn’t make a definitive decision either way. This is the problem with being your own editor, you don’t pick up on things like that. Also if somebody else was editor I’d imagine they’d say “are you sure you’re going to be ok with having the word c**t in the title?” I’m generally not against saying it, but It’s been said far too much and I feel slightly uncomfortable about it now. Live and learn.
For the record I don’t think he is a (whispers) cunt. It’s incredibly disappointing, for the reasons mentioned above. For me Robin always seemed like a player who might actually have been able to resist the lure of the colossal riches available at Man City. A player who viewed football as an art instead of as a business. In hindsight maybe it was unrealistic to expect the huge fish to stay in a shrinking pond.
There’s no doubt that Robin has been very poorly advised, his statement clearly aiming to use the good will generated by a tremendous season to divert the negative press associated with a big money move away from himself and on to the Arsenal board. The reaction on twitter shows that very few fans have been fooled by the cheap illusion and instead of leaving a hero like Thierry Henry, he leaves in disgrace like Nasri.
It’s a shame that it’s ended in such a mess. The sooner he leaves the better and as I said before, while I hold no ill will for him I really don’t care about him any more. I don’t hope that his every move after leaving Arsenal is a total failure, but I also don’t hope he evolves into an even deadlier striker. He can do what he wants, I’m done with him.