Why selling Robin Van Persie to Man Utd would confirm Arsenal’s regression

It has, by and large, been a successful summer thus far for Arsenal and Arsene Wenger. The Gunners’ lack of striking depth appears to have been solved by the additions of vastly experienced international forwards Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, while almost everyone appears in agreement that the signing of Spanish midfield schemer Santi Cazorla is a superb one. Behind the scenes, there is quiet confidence that the arrival of Steve Bould, he of the watertight George Graham era, is beginning to have an effect as the new assistant manager as he attempts to shore up the Gunners’ previously leaky backline. With further signings seemingly on the horizon, even the inevitably departure of contract-rebel Robin Van Persie does not lend itself to the mass panic it did a few weeks ago. Indeed, with the signings of Podolski and Giroud, the Dutchman’s replacements appear to already be in place.

However, with news breaking this week of Van Persie moving closer to a switch to Manchester United, the mood for some fans has darkened considerably. But why? Surely a move to Old Trafford would at least justify Van Persie’s motivations for leaving Arsenal in order to win trophies, rather than for the financial benefits that a move to Manchester City would bring. Indeed, after all the “Man City feeder clubs” jibes thrown at Arsenal following the departures of messrs Toure, Adebayor, Clichy and Nasri to Eastlands, surely Van Persie’s decision to join United rather than City should be applauded rather than criticised? However, the uneasy truth, one that is obvious to all Arsenal fans, is that were Van Persie to move to Manchester United, it would be the biggest sign in recent years that Arsenal’s position at the top table of English football is well and truly over. Forget losing Ashley Cole to Chelsea or Nasri to Man City Losing their best player to Man Utd of all teams would represent a hammer blow to the Gunners faithful.

Simply, Manchester United represent Arsenal’s biggest rivals in recent history and in the Arsene Wenger era particularly, Alex Ferguson represents one half of what was up until only a few seasons ago, the biggest grudge match in English football. We all remember the titanic tussles when the two sides ruled the roost in the late 90s and early parts of the century: Arsenal coming back from 13 points behind to win the 1998 double, Dennis Bergkamp’s missed penalty in the cup replay at Villa Park the following season as United went on to secure the Treble, the embarrassment of United’s 6-1 home romp at home to Arsenal, the Gunners coming back to take the title and double at Old Trafford in 2002, the Battle of Old Trafford a year later which saw Martin Keown’s famous tirade against Ruud Van Nistelrooy, United’s controversial and 49-game unbeaten run ending victory over Arsenal in 2004 that infamously led to “Pizzagate”, the many, many, many battles of Patrick Vieira v Roy Keane, culminating in their “I’ll see you out there” encounter in the Highbury tunnel in 2005. Of course, with the arrival of Chelsea and Man City in recent years, particularly as Arsenal slid away from the top of the Premier League, the rivalry has dimmed somewhat and remarkably, the two managers who once used to speak with such venom at each other, have become friends. However, the lingering ill-feeling between the two clubs remains and one only needs to attend a match between the two sides to realise that the crackling atmosphere of old, though diminished somewhat, is still alive and kicking. Thus, the idea of Van Persie, Arsenal’s talisman and captain joining the Red Devils is unthinkable to Arsenal fans who still see Man Utd as a direct rival to them. To simply hand them over the double player of the year, scorer of 37 goals last season would simply be an admission that Arsenal’s time competing with the men from Manchester is over.

Of course, some might say that this is exactly the case. Arsenal are no longer in touch with Man Utd and that if they deem it acceptable to let players go to Man City (who are of course seemingly a better guarantee for trophies than their near neighbours), then why should it be so wrong to sell to United?. Are the Arsenal fans not naive, deluded enough to still believe that the old days of Wenger v Ferguson can be resurrected? The truth is of course somewhere in the middle. Of course Arsenal are no longer at the level they once were, when the mere sight of them evoked fear in Ferguson’s eyes and words, but to sell Van Persie to them would for the fans simply degrade their club to the status of Tottenham Hotspur, regular sellers of their best players to United in recent years. The fans, particularly buoyed by their summer acquisitions, still believe that a route back to the top is not out of reach; any decision to sell Van Persie to Man Utd however, would simply be an admission that it is.

Adam Mazrani

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4 Responses to Why selling Robin Van Persie to Man Utd would confirm Arsenal’s regression

  1. Jeo August 13, 2012 at 11:12 am #

    It proves that if he goes to man u it's about silverware not money? Apparently he said he wants to be on the same as Rooney, 220k per week, it's deffo about the money too, of not why not stay at arsenal, there adding real quality now, he wants to win trophies? Well stay and work hard for them van nasri!!
    I think now is a great time to cash in on him, I hope he goes to man u and wins bugger all, our squad is getting stronger and stronger, think the silverware is soon on its way to the emirates

  2. SUPERFLYGOONER August 13, 2012 at 12:17 pm #

    WHAT A RUBBISH POST ARSENALS REGRESSION my foot i would take 20 million for an aging 29 year old thats always injured considering how much we payed for girud and padolski imagine what we could get for 20 mill we could buy a youngster sign him up for five years and he could give us 5 better seasons assuming that he'd have less injuries.

    man united is in regression buying 29 year old players that have had only one good season and just adding to there mountain of debt arsenal is just gona get better and better as project youth brings new talent it brings money and while we talking about money the tables are turning in our favour our debt will be completely gone in a few years our stadium brings in a decent income and our sponsorship deals will probably get doubled in 2 years every thing is on the up at arsenal as things are looking bleak every where els in europe as the cracks in the damn wall start to appear (leeds malaga portsmouth rangers)

  3. zdzis August 13, 2012 at 12:27 pm #

    Curious. Have you looked at ManU squad recently? Even if you add RVP to the mix, ManU are at best level with us in terms of squad depth and strength. True, selling RVP to OT would show we aren't powerful enough to command obedience from a player who (apparently) wants to move so much he'd gladly break a leg if it meant he wouldn't be living in London any longer. But where does it say he would move to Manchester at all? These rumours all come from the same source, whose expiry date has been met several times over. Why not just face it, the RVP rumours are all very, very old, tired and slowly dying out. He's not talking, Wenger's not talking, the only guy who is doing all the talking is Old Man Time himself, Fergie. Why does he talk? Because somehow he just can't force Arsenal to sanction the move.
    Does that show we're weak, that we can't mount a challenge? Or does that show that we can put up a decent fight against our rivals even before the season begins?
    We are very much in touch with ManU, because they are facing huge debt-related issues that would render them unable to compete with City if it wasn't for the preference of the PL authorities as well as the PGMOL.

  4. [email protected] August 13, 2012 at 7:41 pm #

    This is a good article. Arsenal must not sell Rvp to Manchester united. While 20 million pounds can do a lot, what is the price of honor because that is exactly what we will lose if we go ahead to bow to manchester united? In Africa, a few fans have died just because arsenal lost some games to manchester united; it will be a betrayal if we sell to man u. We must also remember that the replacement for Rvp will cost us almost the 20 million pounds and it will also take some time for him to blend. Barcelona is strong because of the continuity in the team so we should not at a time that we are at the brink of winning something dismantle our team. Rvp must stay irrespective of signing a new contract or seeing out his contract.

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