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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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