Robin Van Persie shocked Arsenal fans all across the globe with his recent announcement. His intention to quit the club was clear, but, as may come as a surprise, this is not the reason it made such an impact.
Obviously no-one is happy with us losing our best player. In case you needed to be reminded; the Dutchman scored 30 goals in 37 Premier League games.
However there was a part of every Arsenal fan who believed this day would come. We are used to losing our best players. We are used to the tabloid doom and gloom. Ultimately, though, it makes little difference to the team. When Anelka, Overmars, Petit, Vieira, Henry, and most recently Fabregas left there were many people quick to say we’d struggle. Yet we still haven’t finished lower than 4th in Wenger’s reign and on many occasions, we have been in the title race right until the end.
Sure Van Persie saved us many times last season, but we shouldn’t be in a position where we need saving next season. The team has developed greatly since the beginning of last campaign. Add on top of this Podolski and Giroud and we could well have two players scoring between 15 and 20 goals, instead of just one scoring 30.
Van Persie’s leaving will not lower our league position, or potential to challenge for honours. The true discussion lies in whether his leaving indicates a lack of ambition from the board.
According to his statement, Robin is leaving on the basis that he does not believe the board want to win trophies. This has been echoed by Usmanov, who has criticised the board for exactly the same reasons.
The real tragedy in this piece is the way Wenger has been treated. Not by Usmanov, who has recognised his frustrations, but by Van Persie. Here is a manager who is extremely limited by the board’s ambitions. He has openly admitted that if he had the money of Chelsea he would spend it. But he doesn’t. He has to run the club so that it makes a profit.
Van Persie’s claim that he doesn’t believe Wenger is taking the club forward in the right direction is embarrassing. Here is man who is one of the most over-achieving managers in the world, taking a club who, considering its budget, should be about 6th.
When Henry and Fabregas left, the fans still held them in wide regard. We understood that Henry wanted to play for the best team in the world and that Fabregas simply wanted to go back home, also to play in the best team in the world.
Where Van Persie now stands is different. He’s criticised the club at its deepest level. It’s not just that he wants to win trophies, but that the fundamental intentions of the club are wrong. That’s going to hit any Arsenal fan hard.
Only time will tell the position he holds in our memories. Either way, the club is bigger than one person.