Friday, 31 August 2012
RVP:Loyalty, Ambitions,treachery and a genius
8 years ago, good old astute economist Arsene Wenger capitalized on a rift between a young Dutch man and his coach Bert Van Marwijk at Feyernoord to land him for a cool £2.75 million, just over half of the original asking price of £5 million. Pricing enormous talents at cheap prices and nurturing them into super stars had become an entrenched metier of his throughout his illustrious career. And he was to perform the master stroke on this one too. The young man he had just signed was a winger, who had scored 22 goals in 78 appearances for De club aan de Maas. He was 21 year old Robin Van Persie.
Wenger had a lot to do. Van Persie was young, very young. He also had a disturbing track record of being rebellious, encountering numerous disciplinary problems. But there was a plan, and Wenger had it figured out. He would mould him into a fine player, by first converting him from a winger to an out and out goal poacher. It would take time, months, even years, but Wenger was confident it would pay off, and invested in the young man, through thick and thin.
8 years and 132 goals later, Van Persie became Arsenal's team captain, and number one key player. Again, the master Wenger had created a beast of a goal scorer,one of the best in Europe, like he did Thierry Henry. Van Persie top scored the Premier League with 30 goals, won the coveted PFA player of the year, and cemented his place in Arsenal's history books.
But even with all this personal successes, there would be a craving for collective team success that would test his commitment to loyalty, something which he undoubtedly owed Wenger and Arsenal. A 7- year trophy drought at the Emirates meant Van Persie was always going catch the 'frustrated star' syndrome to pack up and leave, on a journey to taste what had become a rare joy of winning a major trophy. High profile exoduses has almost become a tradition at Arsenal, Viera, Gilberto, Henry, Gallas, Fabregas Adebayor et al. However Van Persie's switch is evocative of pure controversy, as he chose the wrong club to realize his dreams. Arsenal's arch rivals Manchester United.
Of course, moving directly across board from one fierce arch rival to the other in unforgivable. It has always been, well at least in the realm of fans, and their intense passion. And I'm sure Van Persie knows it. In as much as there is nothing logically wrong in seeking a platform to win laurels whereas the current platform does not offer opportunities to do so, the place to go must be thought of extensively. Van Persie's case is perculiar because he owes his career to Arsenal/Wenger ,who made him a far better player and had confidence in him during his lowest points. Coupled with becoming an established fan's favorite, the delicate matter of loyalty comes to play.
Loyalty is debatable, especially in contemporary football, which has become a complicated business mechanism. Money has kicked loyalty out of the corridors decision making, whilst prestige and money have become synonymous. So it has become normal these days for players to leave clubs where they are revered, motivated by prestige(a chance to win trophies), and money. Many argue that the place of loyalty and it's associated emotions in such a harsh system should be realistically non existent.
But even with all that, I think it is logical for football fans to expect a player who breaks the loyalty code to at least do so in a way that does not further 'disrespect' laid down traditions. In short, you don't leave your club for their rivals. That is stretching the elasticity of loyalty way too far. That is wrong, especially for a player like Van Persie, who had everything to prove at a club where he was captain, especially when his predecessors all in a way abandoned the club at some point.
He had the chance to be a man of his word, to be a one club man, to be part of a possible golden team that would make history and annex a trophy for the gunners, to be a legend in gunner folklore. But no. He decided to sacrifice 7 years of hardwork for his ambitions. Now, he is no longer an Arsenal legend, despite everything. Just like that. From worshipped cult hero to despised traitor. All because of one needless(in my opinion) move.
The negatives certainly have the upper hand on this one. He could have just ruined his playing progress, which is on a rise. It is no secret that Manchester United don't necessarily need him, as they already have enough firepower in Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito. Furthermore, he could find out very late that Arsenal was the perfect fit for him. Manchester United might struggle to enact a tactical blueprint to play to his strengths. It could turn out to be a really bad move.
In fact, the move not only upsets the sacrosanctity of loyalty, but also looks like a careless go at Russian Roulette. RVP has achieved so much in his career to put all his eggs in one basket and risk it all now. Even attempting to overcome the psychological damage that the abuse from Arsenal fans will have on him will be a tall order, -case in point- Fernando Torress.
Van Persie better know what he has gotten himself into. For his own sake, and that of his career.
Wenger on the other hand, has completed another fine cycle of what he does best. That is almost 22 million pounds worth of profit. Sheer genius. Life goes on for him and Arsenal, as it has always done.
*This article first appeared on Full-TimeWhistle.com on August 17, 2012, where yours truly is a columnist*