Arsenal Fans: Spare RVP Your Hate, It Was Wenger Who Failed Him First
Loyalty is hard to come by…if the framework is right.
Just a couple of days ago I wrote a piece about “Arsenal’s failed experiment with socialism” in which I highlighted the flawed approach in giving good contracts to a lot of players rather than especially big contracts for their most important players. I had the idea for the article because I read about the ongoing contract talks between Arsenal FC and Theo Walcott. On Saturday, as Robin van Persie was united with Arsenal, I caught snapshots of the fans' reactions to his goal on Twitter. Thank modern technology for mobile internet! Personally, I think Twitter is a great tool for interaction with one another, shameless self-promotion (I do it about once a day when I do write something) and ranting. However the stuff I read about Robin Van Persie following his goal – let's just say it was definitely not safe for work; both vulgar and irrational in equal measure.
However, it would be hypocritical of me to slam those misguided fans and claim to be above such irrational hatred. Moving from Arsenal FC to Manchester United arguably carries the same implications as if a player switches from my beloved Barcelona to Madrid, or vice versa. Luis Figo, anyone? It doesn’t happen very often but it does happen.
Yet the situation is never as simple as fans make it out to be. It’s not all black and white. Sometimes there’s no right and wrong. After all, players are human beings, first and foremost – thus ultimately flawed. Branding Robin Van Persie as a money greedy mercenary who wanted to influence the transfer policy of Arsenal FC would be far too easy. It takes two to tango. Usually two parties reach an understanding or at least a compromise. In the case of Arsenal FC and Robin Van Persie – they didn’t.
For a partnership to work both parties need to buy into the idea, share the same vision and more importantly communicate. Robin Van Persie just didn’t share Arsene Wenger’s vision for Arsenal Football Club
A couple of years ago I dated a wonderful Indonesian girl. It didn’t work out. I don’t think it was a matter of whether we liked each other or not. We just didn’t understand one another (which is odd. She’s Batak. So am I. We both belong to a minority in Indonesia). She lived her whole life in the care of her family in Indonesia while I grew up in Europe, being pretty much independent in my decisions. Though we wanted to make it work I suppose it was bound to fail from the get go. Not unless one of us gave up their principles. She has her way of dealing with things and I have mine. It really was trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, which brings us nicely back to the separation of Arsenal FC and Robin Van Persie.
Since I don’t have any more insight than any of you, let’s assume what has been written about Robin Van Persie is true. Say, Van Persie really did make those demands and wanted assurances in regards to the players Arsenal FC were going to sign. If anything, he displayed genuine concern and interest in the club. He wanted to succeed at Arsenal - if the framework was right. At the absolute worst he thought about how to improve the club.
Pardon me, but that doesn’t strike me as the behavior of someone who solely cares about financial gain.
For a partnership to work both parties need to buy into the idea, share the same vision and more importantly communicate. I suppose Robin Van Persie just didn’t see Arsene Wenger’s vision for Arsenal Football Club. Or Wenger didn’t like what Van Persie was trying to communicate to him.
Fans make unreasonable demands. They ask professional athletes for unwavering commitment to the cause. But it’s a profession not a religious belief
The lifespan of a footballers’ career is fairly limited, 10 to 12 years at best. That’s the window for a professional footballer to earn a living, personal accolades and win a few titles. At 29 years of age, time was running out on Robin Van Persie to win the titles that go with a player of his stature. Eight years at Arsenal FC and just a single FA Cup winners’ medal to show for it. That’s a long time to wait for the realization of Wenger’s vision. Some marriages don’t even last eight years (Kim Kardashian’s didn’t even last a fiscal quarter). Fans make unreasonable demands. They ask professional athletes for unwavering commitment to the cause. But it’s a profession not a religious belief. Just because they chase balls for a living doesn’t change the fact that when these players play, they are also working for a wage.
Only very few are lucky enough to have a career that fulfills them. Perhaps it’s not as financially rewarding as it should be but it makes them happy. Is it wrong to ask for both? A professional athlete’s career is short-lived. There’s no re-doing this or re-doing that. The great Paolo Maldini had one of the lengthiest careers imaginable as a player. But what if he had never won a single championship?
Everyone likes to be remembered, those who do not are liars. The great ones are immortalized by their achievements while normal people will be remembered by how they treated one another. Perhaps, it’s remembering the good times that causes fans, or people in general, to become unable to let go. After all, it’s a reminder of times when things were arguably better than they currently are.
I hate reminiscing. It’s a path that leads nowhere but memory lane: Nothing less enticing than facing the possibility that one might have made a mistake.
Not every player is destined to leave a mark like Thierry Henry and become an icon, a club legend. Football goes in cycles and when Titi was an Arsenal FC player the framework to become a club legend was right
One doesn’t like to admit mistakes. If possible we like to see ourselves in the most flattering way. Play the blame game. It wasn’t my fault but hers and so on. I’m a creature of passion, so that’s a denominator I share with fans. Nevertheless, passion is a fuel that is highly flammable. Once one feels betrayed it’s open season. Anything to hurt the other party/person and their feelings is fair game; anything to mask the fact that one is deeply hurt. It’s a way of coping with disappointment. Ever broken up with someone? Chances are you have blamed them for everything that went wrong. Chances are that they have blamed you for everything that went wrong. In the end it’s probably more likely that the both of you contributed to the inevitable break-up.
Yes, Arsenal FC did stick with Robin Van Persie through all the injuries, but he paid them back with committed service whenever he put on the red and white jersey of the Gunners. What more can a player give?
Not every player is destined to leave a mark like Thierry Henry and become an icon, a club legend. Football goes in cycles and when Titi was an Arsenal FC player the framework to become a club legend was right. He had the right manager, the right teammates and the trophies to show for it.
Loyalty is a two-way street. Why lay all the blame at Robin Van Persie’s feet? He doesn’t have another eight years to wait for Arsene Wenger’s vision to come to fruition. Unlike Wenger he only gets to be a player for a limited time. In my opinion Le Professeur has failed him, too. Even the best of relationships cannot run on blind faith and optimism. Should Van Persie have subscribed to a vision that may never become true? Is it so wrong to crave success?
FC Barcelona players and fans are a very happy bunch these days. It’s unthinkable that Andres Iniesta, Xavi or Lionel Messi would seek other clubs, mostly due to the fact that Barcelona’s ambitions align with theirs: They want to succeed. NOW. Not the next season or the season after.
A manager such as Arsene Wenger has forever and a day to pursue his vision. A players’ time is finite
In an environment like this it’s easier to nurture loyalty. Call it corporate culture, if you will.
Question: If pressed who would you rather work for, Google or Yahoo?
One sets out to reinvent the way we use the internet, the other is stuck in past accomplishments. In an ideal scenario Arsenal FC (or any other club that has lost a valued asset) would have provided the perfect environment for the likes of Robin Van Persie to flourish and accomplish their goals. The truth is they failed him.
A manager such as Arsene Wenger has forever and a day to pursue his vision. A players’ time is finite.
Fans should accept the fact that players are nothing more and nothing less than human beings. And every person has the right to pursue their dreams.
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