Why losing your leader is no laughing matter
If you’d have said a year ago that Robin van Persie would join Manchester United, I would have laughed.
Players have left for the lure of Barcelona and the riches of Manchester City but not United — not the team Arsenal have so long considered their rivals.
Seeing their captain and top goalscorer leave for Old Trafford will hurt the fans and Arsene Wenger. Van Persie was adored and cherished by those Arsenal supporters.
Hi there: Robin van Persie has walked out on Arsenal
He was their leader, captain and top goalscorer. It seems every summer now Arsenal lose world-class players — they have become a donor to other clubs.
The Emirates was supposed to be the promised land but the club is losing players.
That is so hard for the fans because it’s difficult to retain any excitement.
It’s a long way from the fantasy football Manchester City have experienced in the transfer market in the past few years or how United will feel after signing Van Persie.
For the player, the chance to go to a fantastic club, maybe win some trophies and earn more money will have been tough to turn down.
It’s not something that would have happened a few years ago when the two clubs were huge rivals. Then it was very hard to leave Arsenal for a rival because we were so successful. When I left Arsenal, Tottenham briefly sounded me out but there was no way I could do that.
I wonder what having to sell Van Persie is doing to Wenger. He’s a hugely ambitious man, a great visionary and the last thing he wants to do is repeatedly sell his best players.
Wenger is proud of the economics of the club and won’t have wanted to lose Van Persie for nothing with his contract ending next summer. In that sense they got the best possible deal. But they would rather have the player.
The players left behind have been here before, seeing Alexander Hleb, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri leave.
They will have learnt from last summer about how to deal with losing team-mates.
Back then, they struggled early in the season because they were grieving. I’m confident they won’t this time around and will take responsibility.
Having said that, it will take another minor miracle from Wenger to get them into the top four again. But he is their glimmer of hope.
Keep your head down: Arsenal fans are furious with the man who was their captain