“Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward. I’ve thought long and hard about it, but I have decided not to extend my contract.” –Robin Van Persie
It has been a little more than 3 years since Robin Van Persie publicly announced to the world of football that he was heartless. Within 24 hours, the Premier League Golden Boot winner, which had Arsenal fans salivating to the idea of watching the indisputable evolution of the next Arsenal legend unfold before them, transformed into the most hated former gunner in recent history. The same man, whose hatrick against Chelsea in the previous year had me waking my roommate at 8:45 AM on a Saturday morning with my exuberant singing of “He scores when he wants”, had immediately became Benedict Arnold (no offense to any Brits).
From there, we are all aware of the story. Judas (who RVP will be referenced as for the remainder of this post) gladly joined United because he wanted to win trophies and, by his own words, “listen to the little boy inside him”. Subsequently that little boy also wanted his allowance to be £200,000/week. Nevertheless, United and Judas both got their prize that is the Premier League title, along with umpteen plaudits from the media. Meanwhile the identified “selling club” that is Arsenal finished again with the highly-discussed “fourth place trophy” and serious skepticism as to whether the club was in the midst of rebuilding or stagnantly regressing.
Fast forward to June 29, 2015. The “selling club” that is fresh from successfully defending its F.A. Cup crown has now signed its third world class player in as many years and, in a complete 180, is now considered by many in the media as the club to legitimately challenge for the league in the upcoming campaign. As for Judas? He is again on the back-pages, rumoured to be departing Old Trafford to the highly ambitious retirement home that is the Turkish Super Lig. While I may be a bit harsh on Fenerbache, it is quite remarkable watching his demise develop so quickly in Manchester.
However the story’s true irony is hidden within the stats. Since Arsenal sold Judas in August of 2012, the club’s goals for in the following three seasons after his departure are as follows: 72 (12/13), 68 (13/14), 71 (14/15) which totals to 211. Conversely, United’s goals tally over the same period of time is 212. And while United did win their league title largely because of Judas, it is fair to suggest that the £24 million received by Arsenal may have been the best financial business Arsene Wenger and Ivan Gazidis have completed in their combined tenure at the club. Why? Two words- Olivier Giroud.
Before half of you angrily scroll to the comment section telling me, “I don’t know **** all about football”, I invite you to read this statistic. Since Giroud’s arrival to, in Wenger’s admittance, replace Judas, our French talisman has netted 58 goals, winning two trophies whilst our former captain has scored 57 goals, winning 1 trophy. It’s also important to remember that the other half of money gained from the sale was invested in Podolski, who himself tallied 31 goals. Now I do completely understand that a fit Judas two seasons ago was a world-class striker, something Giroud will most likely never amount to. But given his age and injury list, selling the Dutchman for £24 million was an incredible profit.
Statistics aside, it really is ironic what Judas wrote that Independence Day (sorry again, Brits for the American patriotism) three years ago. “I disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward”. I understand his frustrations from the previous seven, trophy-less seasons he had endured; watching his best teammates being sold as if they were up for auction. But surely Wenger, Gazidis, and Kroenke (even Vic Akers!) had informed him of the plans for what the not-too-distant future included. And although Manchester was the immediate answer for winning, claiming the direction of Arsenal Football Club was not positive is pure arrogance and stubborn pomposity.
But thankfully gooners, the last laugh resides with Arsenal. While we are debating amongst who should be in the starting eleven between Cazorla, Wilshere, Ramsey (the guy RVP suggested was not good enough,) Ozil, and Oxlade-Chamberlain, Judas will be wondering why Nani is constantly over-hitting crosses.
As you head to your retirement home in Turkey you may be thinking
If only the little boy hadn’t been quite so greedy Robin!