It’s a fact of life that some people have more money than others. But just because your neighbour has bought a Gallardo doesn’t mean that you can roll up to the Lamborghini forecourt and drive away with a shiny new set of wheels. Everyone has to live within their means and no one, not even a football club, is immune to that.
We’ve heard all the background before – the influx of foreign money, the ineffectualness (to date) of financial fair play, the nosediving economy. We’ve also heard all the actions we are taking to cover this as best we can – the new stadium, buying young and cheap, profiting from the academy. It’s taken lots of careful planning and implementation. No matter what one player wants, we can’t just throw caution the winds, throw mud at the wall and hope that something, anything, sticks. Just ask fans of Leeds and Portsmouth – delaying gratification is far better than being the kid who wants to have their cake and eat it, only to find that the only effect of stuffing their face is food poisoning.
What hurts me the most is that I thought van Persie was different. Nasri and Adebayor always have been and always will be mercenaries. Fabregas left for his hometown club, bewitched by friends, family and his local team. But I’ve watched van Persie roar in celebration of crucial goals, I’ve seen him fight with opposition players in defence of his teammates, and I’ve witnessed him professing undying respect, affection and support for the manager, team, fans and history of this great club. As far as any player seems capable, it felt like he ‘got’ it, that he didn’t mind saving up for the Lamborghini.
In a world of mercenaries and oil money pay-packets, the only leverage left to those of us who want to sneak back into the world of fast cars is to instil a sense of loyalty in our players, fostering a community and friendship within the club, and rely on the respect due to our manager to attract the new and retain the old. Which makes it all the more galling when you finally save up for that new car, getting some investment from a Dutch bloke, and then the very same bloke savagely slashes your tyres and keys your bodywork.
Sometimes you need to put the wrongdoer in handcuffs and make them serve their punishment. It’s not just about making sure they get their justice, it’s also about sending out a message to other wannabe tyre slashers that such behaviour is unacceptable. Slap ‘em on and lock him up.
The other side to this is Walcott’s contract – for a player who is sometimes on an almost telepathic wavelength with van Persie, I worry about the consequence of selling the captain. By next summer, van Persie will be almost 30, and with his injury history, it’s not unreasonable to think that he will only have a season or two left. Walcott on the other hand will be just turned 24, still on the way up to the peak of his career, and hopefully a key component of our squad. Once the door is ajar, what’s to stop the exodus? At some point, we have to slam the door shut, bolt and padlock it. Hiring a security guard or two wouldn’t hurt either.
The thing that gets me is what’s the point in signing players to multi-year contracts if they aren’t worth the paper they are written on? It’s a pretty one-sided deal when the players can continue to get paid through thick and thin, through injury and lack of form, and as soon as the dogs come sniffing, they can all but ask for a transfer, and rake in a nice signing on fee into the bargain. It’s time to make a stand.
For me, the talk about van Persie not having his heart in it is garbage – this situation has not ‘suddenly’ arisen, and if he played that well this past season in such a frame of mind, there’s no reason why he can’t do it again. It gives Giroud and Podolski time to bed down, we can still sell him January if we want to recoup some cash, and if we are prepared to make him see out the full duration of his contract, then we may even find that we win something come May, and his perspective changes again.
I firmly believe that if he could win a trophy at the Emirates as opposed to moving, that would be his preference. Despite his ill-informed and ill-timed statement, he’s still a pro, so let’s prove to him that the move isn’t necessary. August isn’t so far away.
I’m not sure what is more annoying – the mental image of John Terry lifting the champions league trophy, or the smug look on the faces of opposition fans when they enquire what we are going to do without van Persie next season – it’s quite fun to see their surprise when I tell them we are going to slap on the handcuffs, and lay down the law – its not the Arsenal they know.
Yeah, stick that in your pipe and smoke it.------------
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