Football fans are the most loyal set of people in the world. Look at Preston North End, Nottingham Forest and all the other once glorious teams of the English football league and where they are today. Compared to where they were, conquering England, conquering Europe and dominating teams and today just making appearances in the lower rungs of the league, you’d have to appreciate the fans who have been there all through these times. Football fans, genuine fans of football who stick and get stuck with their clubs through thick and thin must be celebrated. Having said that, football fans are in their most natural state irrational.
Now that is not a thing to say to a bunch of irrational people but that is what it is. When it comes to matters concerning the wellbeing of their clubs or when it is time to rant and banter, football fans come up with the most annoying things. Take the case of Robin Van Persie and Arsenal. Here is a man, 29 years old with at most 3 more years of top flight football left in him or if fortunate may be 5 but you’d not expect him to be wanted by any club as much as he is wanted now. In eight years, he has only won one major trophy with Arsenal, the 2005 FA Cup. That is a dismal run for any player and the way a 29 year old would look at the future is not the same way a 19 year old would see it. Footballers have a limited career. It is a very short career. One moment you are Ronaldinho and dazzling the world, the next moment you are shipped back to Brazil and nobody really cares if you exist anymore. No matter how good and revered a footballer is, a time would come when he’d start losing yards, when his body would not be able to completely translate what the mind wants done. These things matter and it affects the kind of contract a footballer would sign at 29 and that which he’d sign at say 19 years of age. This also determines whether he’d decide to go play in say Russia or China for the money or play in England for the name. All of these decisions are very much dependent on age and opportunities. Like money, trophies matter.
There are valid arguments against Robin Van Persie when you look at how much Arsenal stuck with him with his history of injuries. In the last 8 years, no first team Arsenal player has suffered more injuries than RVP, and all through these years Arsenal stuck with him. You’d expect him to pay back that loyalty but let us be rational here. Arsenal would not be playing in the Champions League this year but for his goals from last season. Forget the team goals, RVP scored some goals that were purely down to his talent. Even if that was not enough pay back, what else could he do? Arsenal will be competing for trophies 50, 100 or even 200 years to come but Robin Van Persie will not be competing at the highest level in 10 years except he finds an unusual Giggs in him or an element of fortune, something which you cannot plan for.
May be going to a direct rival was what made it even harder for the Arsenal fans but then only United was willing to pay what Arsene Wenger wanted. It is a business as much as it is a sport. Let us never forget this. Having said all these, get ready for a Theo Walcott departure too. At the end of the day, Arsenal must accept the reality that players will leave at their peak as long as they don’t see a major trophy in Arsenal’s present and immediate future.
So then, as fans, let us know when to argue with our hearts – defending our clubs and badges without rationality – and when to argue with our heads – doing same rationally. If you ask 100 Arsenal fans, about 90 of them would say RVP was wrong. If you ask the same people what they’d do if they found themselves in RVP ‘s shoes, what would they do if they engaged their minds and spoke the truth?
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