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Robin Van Persie: The Pinnacle of Treachery or just part of the Job?

Following Robin van Persie’s move from Arsenal to Manchester United, we look at whether it’s the height of treachery towards the Gunners or just part of the job

Van Persie Arsene Wenger

Guest post by: Manu Lee

Having been snapped up by team Google at the tender age of 24, Marissa Mayer spent 13 years gradually working her way into an upfront position and eventually becoming one of their most prestigious players. However, last month, in a shock transfer move, Mayer left the team for arch-rivals Yahoo.

Or so you might have read if Marissa Mayer was a footballer, of course she isn’t, she was, in fact, the world’s first female employee of the Google Empire. And after working her way up to an executive position, now at the height of her career, Mayer has recently taken a new job as the CEO of rival firm Yahoo.

At this moment in time, however, it may be a fitting comparison to describe Marissa Mayer as the Robin Van Persie of the business world. The difference being, whilst Mayer is being congratulated in her career advancement Van Persie, on the other hand, has committed one of the most heinous of footballing crimes.

If you are a fellow Arsenal fan you probably experienced a similar emotional episode as I did upon the announcement that Van Persie would not be signing a new contract and the consequential transfer to Manchester United… brief heartbreak swiftly replaced by incessant anger, ultimately translated through a barrage of twitter abuse.

But here begs the question, the old age question, is Van Persie, like Marissa Mayer, simply moving up in his profession or does he owe something to the club which made him who he is? What is it, if anything, that makes football different to any other profession?

As always, player salaries remain at the epicentre of this sort of debate and I feel that the issue of money is probably a good place to start in attempting to answer these questions.

One of the many complaints echoing around the twittersphere is that Van Persie is a heartless, money-grabbing b******; simply another addition to the breed of players that we have come to know and despise in this era of modern football. But can we really blame him for wanting a pay rise?

The fact is Van Persie, like all top flight footballers, is already making ridiculous earnings and from the more than modest position of us fans, we would all like to think that he was satisfied with what he made at Arsenal. Clearly he wasn’t and the striker will now be earning somewhere within the region of £200,000 per week. One can only imagine that Van Persie is looking to replace his silver-plated toilet seats with gold-plated ones.

But sarcasm aside, I feel it is just too easy for us to say that Van Persie should be happy with what he earns already. If we were in a position, regardless of the profession, to negotiate a pay rise would we not jump at the chance? Perhaps I shouldn’t be so sceptical about the state of human nature but if the current footballers are anything to go by, well… confidence remains low.

Furthermore, football fans have to accept an element of career progress. Unfortunately Arsenal are not the best team in the world (in terms of footballing success). It should not be considered wrong for someone to want to ‘move up’ in their career and in a footballer’s case one aspect of this involves transferring to a more successful team than their current one.

So if career progress and a pay-rise demand is a semi-legit, sort of fair enough reason for him to leave, what reasons can be given in argument for him to stay? Or, for that matter, why is any player obliged to subject themselves to a glass ceiling?


What makes the sports industry different to other professions is the emotional investment it entails. Football clubs are entities made up of players, fans, coaches, board members, managers etc and loyalty is the cohesive which binds them.

A unity of fans, commit whole lifetimes, turning up week in week out to support their team, this loyalty is what drives the competition, which in turn drives the money, the investment, and ultimately the industry as a whole.

And why should fans be expected to be so loyal when the players they are supporting are not? Career progress is understandable but players also need to respect the virtue of loyalty which is fuelling their existence. The point at which the degree of self-progression outweighs the expected degree of loyalty is the point fans have a right to be annoyed. That said, the line will always be very blurry.

And that is the case for footballers in general; with regard to RVP the story runs deeper. Where other managers may have grown impatient, Arsene Wenger stood by Van Persie throughout his entire injury-ridden career. Does this not mean anything to Van Persie? After his first, proper injury-free season he is just going to pack his bags and forget everything that Wenger has done for him?

Now that Van Persie has played his final hand, with such an injury-filled record, I presume Arsenal fans will be waiting to see whether karma is yet to play hers and irony his.

Finally there is the issue of trophies, understandably a world class player such as Van Persie wants to end his career having won several trophies and thus move to somewhere like Manchester United perchance to win them, but here is the catch, where is the satisfaction in simply moving to one of the best teams in the country which is very likely to win a trophy with or without your help? Quoting the man himself,

‘I’m sure I could win things at another team in another country, but would it feel like our trophy, my trophy? I’m not sure it would. Anything we win here will come from the heart and that’s what I want. It’s my dream and I see no point in speaking about other teams when I have these dreams. I think other people know that about me; I’m just hungry to win with Arsenal and that’s it.”

Robin van Persie is quoted as saying by Sky Sports in February 2011.

Evidently this was before he was blinded by the payroll. It is like cheating on a video game to complete a level you are stuck on, you are initially pleased until you are left with a empty feeling, realising that you will never be as satisfied had you persevered and completed it yourself.

In other news, now that this Van Persie saga has finally reached an end and perhaps in anticipation of that end, it seems that Wenger has finally got his act together as the transfer window moves into its closing stages.

I’m sceptical as to whether Podolski and Giroud are game changers (in the metaphorical sense) but they will certainly bolster the squad. Cazorla on the other hand looks to be an extremely good signing, a superb talent from Spanish club Malaga, who, it seems, was previously concealed by the saturation of talent normally found at Barca or Real.

And with rumours of players such as Sahin still on the cards it appears that a Van Persieless Arsenal may not be as screwed as once thought.

What do you think of RVP’s move? Height of treachery Or just part of the job? Get involved in the comments section.

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  1. ne

    August 23, 2012 at 6:55 pm

    :)…we bring in RVP in such a young age. He had been in these club for years and years. I’m sure most of us had went to school before, do you guys felt that feeling when seeing your friend leave after grad?…I think the term bored can describe it, I’m not backing him. But I’m tired of all the story about him, lets move on. Beside we had been bringing in star as a replacement unlike before when we lose cesc and nasri.


    August 23, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    I think van persie’s case is very different to many others. First of all we took care of him (and paid him for doing nothing) when he was injured for 6 years. We stood by him and didnt sell him when every other club would have. When he found his form again and stayed injury free, he did nothing to repay our patience and loyalty to him, but wanted to get more money elsewhere. I see absolutely no humanity in that, it makes no sense whatsoever!

  3. anONYmouse

    August 23, 2012 at 7:03 pm

    Part of the job…………I would change company too if some other will more than double my current salary. Aren’t all of us? Why single out RvP?

    • Paul N

      August 23, 2012 at 7:53 pm

      So if someone trained, paid and kept the faith in you when you could not do your job, you would just jump and move along as soon as you were healthy enough?

      Also, someone looking to double 25k per year is very different from someone looking to double 125k per week.

      This was a terrible stunt that RVP pulled. I can deal with Song.

    • jasper fernandez

      August 23, 2012 at 7:56 pm

      It is ur type dat wuld ruin a company, even if dat company is where U were trained 2 ne D best @ wat U do. U talk as if football is any oda business, U 4get D fact dat football is a sport as well as a culture, hence wy we av various sort of sentiments. Even man U fans will tell U D truth abt wat van persie did and ow dey wuld av felt if rooney had done desame. Call it wateva U like, but D fact remains dat RVP betrayed D club and D love we fans had showed him all dese yrs

      • Benglian

        August 23, 2012 at 8:19 pm

        You do realise that nobody can bear to read what you ‘write’ when you butcher the language like that? So whats the point of commenting?

        • Isaacthegooner

          August 23, 2012 at 8:47 pm

          I agree with you Benglian. People who post comments should at least try to make themselves understood by the general public. They just seem to think that they are texting their mates.

  4. GB

    August 23, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    When I first started reading I thought “here we go another writer going on about how its is just a job and like the rest of us in our jobs he is entitled to seek a pay raise elsewhere”. I was pleased that you then reasoned why he should have been staying and showing the club some loyalty. I believe he owed us some loyalty and you cannot compare football to any other business or type of work. those that argue for this and that he has just done what we would all do conveniently only look at one aspect of it and conveniently forget one other major aspect of being in a job in the UK. If you are self employed and cannot work you don’t get any money. If you are employed you are better covered but even then companies will reduce your salary significantly if you are unable to work for a significant period of time with some even legally sacking you as being unable to do the job you are employed to do. Footballers are different and get paid wages that make them multi-millionaires even when they are unable to carry out said job, so you cannot conveniently compare it to just another job. I don’t know the figures but if you looked at what RVP earned at Arsenal while injured and not able to do his job it may get up to £12m to £15m. For me he owed Arsenal big time but instead he turned around and stabbed them in the back.

  5. Rahi

    August 23, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Climbing the ladder with other person holding my back, but as soon as I reached the top, lets push THAT other person first.

    That’s me RVP!!!!!

  6. freddy

    August 23, 2012 at 7:57 pm

    I dont think rvp thought he was leaving for a rival. Arsenal are not a threat to man u anymore and man u’s big rivals traditionally are liverpool, man city and leeds and arsenals are spurs. whats the problem? Arsenal fans are just bitter because they can no longer compete.

    • Jah Gooner

      August 23, 2012 at 9:41 pm

      I dont think rvp thought he was leaving for a rival.”
      LOL, shut up you donut, Van Purse may be a twat, but he’s not as stupid as you obviously are. lol

      Go Gunners!

  7. Shakabula Gooner

    August 23, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    I think it was a win-win situation for RvP. Even if injured, ManU remains obliged to pay his new salary for the next 5years. Plus, he is 29yrs old.

    It was also a good deal for Arsenal. they got 24m pounds fo their investment. money the could re-invest on a new set of younger players.

    ManU took the most risk: hoping that their 70m pound investment on RvP will get them more tropies over the next 5yrs. How the reached the conclusion that this is the principal investment required baffles simpletons like moi.

    If I was RvP or Wenger, I would take exactly the same decision that both took.

    As for fans, fans will be fans. No use appealing to them that they look at the situation in any way less than the emotional manner that they are prone to. Their emotional in the clubs they support is precisely what qualifies them as fans.

  8. Destr0

    August 23, 2012 at 8:42 pm

    I think the analogy made here is false. If Marissa Mayer spent years underperforming, she would not have climbed to the the position she got to in order to be considered for the Yahoo position. But let’s say she managed to work her way up the ladder anyway, in spite of underperforming for years. Then unexpectedly she released a statement questioning the direction of Google and whether or not they were moving in the right direction and saying she wouldn’t be returning. She would have been shown the door and no company in Silicon Valley would touch her. She would probably have some sort of non compete clause in her severance package anyway.

    There were two galling things about the RvP saga. The first was the shameful lie of statement that was put out by the CAPTAIN of the team publicly questioning the organization’s direction and then the team actually non instituting their own “non-compete” clause, so to speak, of sending him off to the highest foreign bidder or face a season of rotting in the under 21 league as an overage outfield player.

    To compare this RvP saga to the new Yahoo CEO is not an apt analogy. Sports is indeed a business, just as cutthroat, but these two situations are vastly different.

  9. Ottawa Matt

    August 23, 2012 at 8:43 pm

    I feel that the analogy has one flaw: RVP abandoned the captaincy and leadership role at Arsenal to be a gun for hire at United.

    Wouldn’t the equivalent be more akin to leaving a position as the CEO of Yahoo, a slightly less prestigious company in the world’s view, for a more highly-paid job pushing the mail cart at Google?

  10. Weedz

    August 23, 2012 at 8:45 pm

    Thank you for your insight. I agree with all you say and I also believe, as a older fan, I am also a Gooner, that this is the perspective that should be followed.

    Having said that, there is one major point that you have not touched on in your article. And that is, that the press, in general, did not attack, with venom, `Team Google` for loosing the services of Miss Moya.

    Fans of Google did not have to ingest weeks of regurgitated lies and speculation from I.T. Journos with agendas of their own.

    And all football writers should learn to appreciate this fact.

  11. Maxwell Jullah

    August 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    D issue z nt money,”but Arsenal,rvp vs man utd”hu z/was v winner?both z my answer!

  12. jacheria

    August 23, 2012 at 8:51 pm

    did u think that at 29 he wanted to win a trophy b4 retiring?!

  13. Isaacthegooner

    August 23, 2012 at 9:25 pm

    All these comments still leave the big question un-addressed. Should ball players be so well remunerated? It is undeniable that it is obscene to give someone a quarter of a million pounds for a week of playing football when they are not even adept at doing their “skills” any justice. If a surgeon, for instance, missed the target, would the consequences not be more serious? Footballers enjoy a charmed existence as the system values excitement over excellence. I love Arsenal.I love football. If the proponents of the game really love money more than the game, then- Thank God for Arsene Wenger. I think he is more in touch with reality than he is given credit for. It makes me proud to be an Arsenal fan. I love Arsenal.

  14. matt

    August 23, 2012 at 10:15 pm

    Cannot imaging Google being to happy with the loyalty of Marissa Mayer if she haid spent half of her career claiming £50k a week whilst being unavailable to work before she switched allegiance. More likely she would have been shown the door before her breakout year. Here the similarity ends.

  15. Evans Ehicho

    August 23, 2012 at 10:53 pm

    Yes I can feel the pain of Arsenal Fans honestly though am United fans.But I think Arsenal gave him the chance for the transfer.if they value him so much as they now profess after the transfer, they should have given him an improve contract that suit his status. I remember when W.Rooney wanted to leave united and went as far submitting a transfer, and that united refuse to sign world class players.what happens when he was handed a bumper from a £90,000 per week to £250,000.I actually think Arsenal needed the transfer than RVP himself.I was pretty obvious they could no longer afford the player of his status. Stop the noise and allow the RVP enjoy his carrier.


    August 24, 2012 at 1:18 am

    Great article Manu. This certainly wouldn’t be seen in The Sun!!

    OK.. VP is certainly not going to be as good at United as he was for Arsenal last season. He’s also injury-prone and may even struggle to get a starting lineup place each game??? Its annoying but I don’t think Arsenal fans should worry. They always sell their top players – anelka, henry, pires, fabregas, nasri, song, van persie… and they always look ok without them. At the end of this season they’l be a new star at Arsenal, guaranteed! But at the same time – Wenger could do without selling his big guns. They need to replace Song, for sure but maybe Diaby will do it??

  17. aussie steve

    August 24, 2012 at 9:33 am

    Arsenals manager and board must think like there supporters. We can pay less wages than other big clubs and not bring in big expensive players because as long as we are lining our pockets who cares if we win naff all. The players will stay through loyalty. NOT.

  18. Nosa

    August 24, 2012 at 10:13 am

    I tink many reasons made Rvp leave,such as sale of key team players for over 7yrs(hleb,flamini,toure,nasri,ade,fabregas,clichy,henry,reyes etc d list is endless)these sales without due replacements make anybody question a club’s direction especially if ΰя a club competing for titles,but Yes he’s been injured for so long aπϑ arsenal took care of it,the question is are we nt sure he blames the medical staff for his prolonged injuries in how its managed,take a look at young wilshere he’s going through the very same thing now. Soon wilshere on walcott wil be called leaders of d team at such a young age,its too much people

  19. Blessed cr7

    August 24, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Rvp is a traitor.He went afta d moni nt d game.I tot 6yrs in injury wud teach a dutch dog dat bones dnt get rot.I pway arsenal fans 4giv u.

  20. GM

    September 1, 2012 at 5:26 pm

    He is a traitor. As a fan, we support our team whatever, we don’t just suddenly switch teams because we’re losing, and God knows Arsenal has always given as far as RvP is concerned, unlike they do to the fans. When I see him putting on the tablecloth shirt of the traditional enemy, it makes my skin crawl, it feels like Churchill going off to be a subordinate of Hitler, and Judas taking his thirty pieces of silver all rolled into one!

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