The Arsenal Fan's Guide To Hating Robin van Persie
Hello, I'm Jim, I'm a stand up comic and presenter on The Football Ramble podcast. I also write for bettingexpert.
Robin van Persie left Arsenal for Manchester United. It happened. And it outraged Gunners fans across North London and the globe. Today on the blog Football Ramble presenter and Arsenal fan Jim Campbell tells us why he hates RvP.
I pride myself on being a rational football fan. I support Arsenal but I recognise that Spurs play great football and are entertaining to watch. It's just clearly how it is. Similarly, I understand that at 29 Robin van Persie felt he had to leave Arsenal if he was going to win trophies. I also understand that his family are settled in England and that he'd grown up in the Premier League so wanted to win that above anything else. It's his personal life, it's his career, it's fair enough, I get that, but here's the thing.
I hate him.
This isn't like me, and I think a lot of other people who pride themselves on being rational Arsenal fans feel the same. I thought it'd initially be difficult to see him in a Manchester United shirt but that it would pass. It hasn't. Every time I see him he makes me feel angry towards him. I think I understand how Spurs fans must feel when they see Sol Campbell.
When Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry left they'd already won a lot with the club. Cesc Fabregas has a unique relationship with Barcelona and their team is full of his childhood friends, he was always going to leave, we knew this. Samir Nasri hadn't been around long and Emmanuel Eboue was always going to be too much of a free spirit to stay at one club for too long. We're used to players leaving, but this one is different.
This one almost feels personal, even though that's as irrational as you can get. It's like being dumped, or kicked in the mangerines by your hero, and now I find myself hating him in stupid ways.
I hate that he missed a significant chunk of every season at Arsenal apart from the last but now seems invincible, even after Ashley Williams tried to kill him. Not that I wish injury on him, I just find the timing annoying. He should have become invincible years ago. I don't understand where this Wolverine-style healing factor has suddenly come from.
I hate the “little boy” inside him, that he claimed told him to sign for Manchester United. Presumably it wasn't this little boy.
I hate the small v in his surname. It looks better with a capital V and I don't care if that isn't his fault.
More than anything, I hate that the memories of the amazing things he did at Arsenal are now tainted. You can look back at the others fondly but not this one. Van Persie is an Arsenal great, so much so that he scored more goals than Dennis Bergkamp did and in far fewer games, but every time you think about him the thought ends with him leaving to join them, and that's another stark reminder of just how far Arsenal have fallen since he joined the club in 2004.
That's the key. He's a symbol of a project whose aim was to produce a team of world class players developed at the club. His development into one of those world class players and his subsequent departure due to the rest of that project not working out is the final proof that the project failed, and that is something that we all hate more than any one individual.
Thankfully football is cyclical. We'll have other heroes. The next obvious one is our new number 10, Jack Wilshere. Arsenal may not have won anything in a long time but that isn't unusual in our history. We've never been a dominant force like Liverpool or Manchester United have, rather going through spells of excellence. We'll get there again. It won't be this season. It probably won't be under Arsene Wenger and it might not even be any time soon, but sooner or later Arsenal will contend again and dealing with upheaval such as this will make it all the sweeter when they do.
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Fans will undeniably feel betrayed when a player leaves their club for a higher salary or claiming that he is more ambitious than the club. And if he does so by walking right into what is considered the lion's den by fans, as did van Persie by joining United, it will hurt even more.
Yet you're right. Football is cyclical. Unfortunately, I believe that the dismantling is not over yet at Arsenal. The biggest hit is yet to come with Wenger probably departing over the summer. I cannot really see Arsenal pick up enough form to finish in the Champions League this season and there are insistent rumours that he will be the new Real Madrid manager. Perfect combination if you ask me.
Hate is such an ugly word and don't think there is enough time in the world to "hate" Van Persie when Arsenal has so much else talking point to deal with. Van Persie is history and it's time that Arsenal will find a balance amongst their squad and not rely on 29. But I think you are right about Arsenal with the end product, another dissapointing year.