It’s interesting how perspectives change almost on a daily basis. Two years ago Robin van Persie was probably congratulating himself on his decision to join Manchester United from Arsenal. And why wouldn’t he? After all, he had won his first league title in England and retained his top-scorer position, while his old club went through an eighth consecutive season without a trophy. What could possibly go wrong from there, right? Right?
Well, it could and it did. Alex Ferguson decided to hang up his David-Beckham-hitting-boots and hair-dryer for good; which might have influenced some referees’ performances in the last two years as well so that United don’t have the sort of advantage we used to be frustrated with. Van Persie’s injury demons have returned, and David Moyes and Louis van Gaal have spent hundreds of millions only to twice finish behind van Persie’s former club. Furthermore, van Persie has won just one trophy in the last two seasons – a Community Shield against Wigan – while his former team-mates have put three pieces of silverware in the Emirates Trophy Room (two FA Cups and a Community Shield).
Now, two months before his 32nd birthday, van Persie appears to be surplus to requirements at Old Trafford, and he has admitted he is considering his options (via eurosport.yahoo.com). Which, in a way, proves how wrong his decision to join Manchester United was.
Van Persie pointed out once that it was Dennis Bergkamp who had been his inspiration during his early days at Arsenal. Bergkamp’s desire to be perfect in everything was a great example for the young, talented, and somewhat problematic Dutch forward. And now, three years after his infamous departure from Arsenal, he is about to suffer a blow in his attempt to emulate his compatriot’s career.
You see, many people have forgotten that Dennis himself had gone through a rough period between 1999 and 2001. He had been overshadowed by our new super-striker Thierry Henry and it looked like the end for Dennis at Arsenal would come soon. Like always however, Dennis decided to surprise the world by showing some of his best football in 2001-02 including the perfect goal against Newcastle. (It was so beautiful that people have forgotten how important it was as well.)
But, that was Dennis Bergkamp, one of our legendary players that has already got his own statue. And we are now talking about van Persie, one of the numerous players that have missed their opportunity to become club legends in favour of short-term glory.
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Instead of emulating Bergkamp, van Persie has managed to repeat the feat of Michael Owen. Before making hilarious anti-Arsenal predictions and claims, Owen used to play football. He was actually really good at that and had won The Golden Ball. However, Owen had missed his opportunity to become a legend at Liverpool due to his desire for trophies. We can joke all day long about Steven Gerrard’s slips, but he will be remembered as a legend at Anfield just because he had spent his best days playing for Liverpool and sharing the locker-room with such world-beaters like Joe Allen, Djimi Traore, El-Hadji Diouf, Salif Diao and many others. It was one thing for Owen to leave Liverpool for Real Madrid, but once he signed for Manchester United in order to win the league with them, he sold his place in the book of Liverpool legends for a piece of silverware.
Van Persie had the chance to become one of the greatest Arsenal players of all time. He had captained arguably the worst Arsenal team in the Wenger-era to a third-place finish and led by example, scoring 30 goals in the league and 37 in all competitions. He should have realized that Theo Walcott, Santi Cazorla, Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud would have helped him in maintaining or even improving those numbers. There were reports that he had been unhappy with Wenger’s transfer plans (via goal.com), especially regarding defence which is ironic given how many times he had to bail the Manchester United defence out with his goals in 2012-13. I will always believe that we would have won the league with the Cazorla-van Persie team-up.
Just like Owen screwed his chance to be remembered by the Liverpool fans as one of the greatest, van Persie spoiled his chance to become an Arsenal legend for a medal that he would have won with Arsenal anyway. Neither of them will be considered as Manchester United legends one day. The guy we used to celebrate with a banner: “We don’t need Batman, we have Robin” should have known that Old Trafford has been Wayne’s Mansion for a decade – so it’s a legitimate question:
Was it worth it, Robin? Was it a good thing to sell a statue outside the Emirates for just one medal?