Thursday, July 5, 2012

Who's The Villain here?

So the situation between Arsenal and its only marquee star has come to a head.  Robin Van Persie will be leaving the Emirates Stadium, either this summer or at the end of his contract next year, as he has announced that he has no intention of re-upping with the London club. 

Lots of questions here, probably should address each party in kind...

Van Persie
There were obviously clouds on the horizon early in the last campaign when he broke off contract negotiations the club, preferring to wait and see how everything sat at the end of the season.  For what it's worth, the club was in shambles at that moment in time, and it seemed prudent for Van Persie to wait.  If the wheels were coming off, it at least provided him the option to get out.  It didn't turn out that way though.  Van Persie had a dream season, scored 30 goals in the league and the club finished 3rd, assuring a Champions League place for the 14th consecutive season. 

Van Persie has had meetings with the club on and off since the season ended and it appears that no contract was really discussed, but rather a discussion of where the club's management saw the club headed to in the near future.  Needless to say, the parties did not see eye to eye and RVP decided it was time to go.  Admittedly, I probably come down on the Van Persie side of the debate. 

Here's where RVP loses me.  He announces via his official site that he's not going to sign a new deal.  He takes something that has been incredibly low key and behind closed doors and goes all LeBron and makes it a spectacle.  Now, if Arsenal chooses to sell him, their hand is forced and their bargaining position is weakened.  This is not the approach that someone who supposedly loves the club should have taken.  Pretty bush-league if you ask me. 

Arsene Wenger
Another super high profile PR loss for Wenger.  Philosphically, he is going to need to change if he doesn't want to watch top talent continue to walk out the door.  The club's three best players have departed in the past two seasons and I am not sure the bleeding has been stopped yet. Wenger runs a very good business, in terms of the financial bottom line, but his refusal to truly invest in first tier established stars is a major sticking point for the talent.  Today's English Premier League requires bringing in the best players, period, not the best players that can be bought on a tight budget.  Arsenal have acquired two players that they believe to be first rate this summer in Olivier Giroud and Lukas Podolski, but the reality is that both of those players were bought at relative discounts and their purchase appears to be too little too late for RVP.  If you don't send out a clear message that Arsenal is a place for top tier talent and first rate squad investment, this is what happens.  And that, my friends, is on Arsene Wenger. 

Stan Kroenke/The Arsenal Board
This is a group of people that has to be feeling the heat big time today.  RVP's decision to walk away is as much a referrendum on the Ownership/Board's cheapskate policy as it is Wenger's.  Kroenke talks about winning (when he talks, which is rarely), but success for the fan base and for the players is not measured in finishing in the top 4 of the Premiership.  It's measured in silverware and the trophy for this past season's third place finish looks a lot like nothing.  The club has the resources to buy top tier talent.  Edin Hazard was a possiblity, albeit expensive.  Mario Gotze is also still an option.  And thats just two guys.  Long story short is that you can buy your way out of this recurring Arsenal problem of having the best players constantly leaving.  But in order to do that, you have to flash the cash. 

Everyone's to blame in this clusterfuck.  All Arsenal can do now is move forward and make a concerted effort to properly invest in the team. 

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