Dear Arsène, I would love to take your advice and show respect towards Robin van Persie when – unless a Cashleyesque injury prevents him to feature on Sunday – he will come out of the tunnel at the Emirates Stadium wearing another shirt than the Arsenal one.
I would really like to be diplomatic but I already know I won’t be able to retain my bitterness towards a string of events which should have taken a different path.
I’ve never been bothered by players deciding to leave Arsenal, I haven’t when Ashley Cole decided to secretly meet Chelsea officials and I haven’t when players like Sol Campbell, Mathieu Flamini, Aleksandr Hleb, Cesc Fàbregas and Samir Nasri forced their way out of the Club to join other teams for “footballing reasons” as I was sure they would have ended on the bench and would have regretted their decision, as it actually happened later – despite some of them still deny it.
In this case, I simply cannot swallow it.
It’s not about how the whole saga ended, is about the way Robin van Persie decided to leave Arsenal: he chose the worst way, the most cruel and cynical way to force Arsenal to sell him to Manchester United.
He could have done worse only joining Tottenham but apart from Spurs, he definitely picked the best team to earn an everlasting status of Judas.
Naively, I believed that the Dutchman had a different moral stature compared to those who jumped off the ship in the past and I sincerely thought that the word gratitude meant something to him.
Be careful Arsène, I didn’t just decided to uncritically trust Robin van Persie but I did it because of the way the Dutchman spoke and behaved both privately and publicly during his time at Arsenal.
Each time he said he would have decided about his future only once the season over, to avoid any distraction and remained focused on Arsenal challenge for a Champions League spot, I trusted him; each time he declared his love towards the Club, yourself and the fans, I trusted him and each time he said Arsenal was his priority, I trusted him.
Then, as Robin van Persie himself said, I found out that he already decided to join Manchester United back in January.
In such an astonishing casual way, he confirmed that once the proposal received from Sir Alex Ferguson’s men, he didn’t even think about the decision to make because “the kid inside me screamed Manchester United! Manchester United! Manchester United!”
That’s the reason why I can’t just forget it.
While he was repeating that he wouldn’t have taken any decision about his future before the end of last season, he already had an agreement with Manchester United; while he was politely declining any offer coming from Arsène Wenger and Ivan Gazidis, saying that he would have preferred to stay focused on the final rush, he already was a Manchester United player.
After eight years of great support shown by anyone at the Club, leaving the way Robin van Persie left is a real outrage towards those people who turned an arrogant, misbehaving kid into one of the finest striker on Earth.
With that cynical statement published on his website, Robin van Persie bit the hand which allowed him to rescue a career that looked over many times, even before it even started.
The Arsenal, the Gooners and especially you, Arsène Wenger, stood behind him during the most difficult time, during the rape affair; we all stood behind him each time an ankle, a foot, a knee or any other part of his body collapsed and forced the Dutchman on the sidelines for weeks or months; we were all there for him each time a columnist questioned the striker and the faith you showed towards this Dutch wreck who spends more time on the treatment table than on the turf.
When in the early years of his Arsenal career the whole dressing room couldn’t stand him, you persuaded Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp to take him under their wings and inculcate the Arsenal way into the head of that insolent, selfish young man.
Any other manager in the world – Sir Alex Ferguson included – would have simply kicked the Dutchman’s ass and packed him back home, like Bert van Maarwijk did, but you decided to make of Robin van Persie the replacement for a legend like Thierry Henry.
The Arsenal, in each of its components, gave him eight years of unconditional support and received back only one and a half seasons of pure magic before the guy decided to jump on a better ship, as soon as he got the opportunity.
In a few minutes – those which Robin van Persie apparently needed to decide – he cancelled out eight years spent in North London, with its heights and lows.
I’m glad it took him just some minutes to cancel everything; I will need an awful lot of time to do it.
Therefore, my dear Arsène, I apologize in advance because I won’t be able to take your advice and I will boo a player to whom I gave every possible support and who stabbed me in the back.
Despite the anger, the bitterness and the delusion, anyway, I won’t allow myself to reach the level of cowardice that many opposite fans – Manchester United’s ones included – reached each time Robin van Persie led Arsenal while playing away from home and therefore I won’t sing (and hopefully none at the Emirates will) that hateful song that says “She said no, Robin, she said no”.
Perhaps during the short time he spent reflecting about the opportunity to join Manchester United, Robin van Persie didn’t take the time to think about the barbarism his new fans showed towards him.