Easley Street

Robin van Persie signs for Man U: Damnatio Memoriae

In 1983 I was a pimply-faced Gridiron football fan and absolutely infatuated with the Seattle Seahawks. All of the players and coaches from Chuck Knox and his famed “Ground Chuck” offense to the quarterback Dave Krieg I loved them all. Maybe it wasn’t “love”, I didn’t feel love, I actually felt envy or something stronger than envy: I wanted to be them.

Every morning before school, a bunch of us would show up to the bus-stop an hour early and play football. Every pass I caught I imagined I was Steve Largent, picked out on a perfect post move by my friend Matt who wanted to be Dave Krieg. Every time I ran the ball, I imaged I was Curt Warner, juking the Pittsburg Steelers’ iron curtain with a hip swivel. And on defense, my favorite part of the game, I really felt like I was my hero, strong safety Kenny Easley. I hit harder when I imagined I was Easley. I closed space faster. I read the game better. At least in my mind.

I don’t remember if there were replica jerseys in those days but if there had been and I had the money, I would have bought one that said “Easley” with the number 45 on the back because then I could pretend to be Kenny Easley: Kenny Easley didn’t have problems with girls or money, Kenny Easley was powerful, and Kenny Easley was loved by millions of fans for his dedication to the team.

I never did make strong safety. When I eventually made my High School football team, I was too small and instead I was given the number 42 and played as a free safety. And through all the years I played football I would never win the number 45 shirt as it was always taken by the more athletic boys.

Despite my disappointment at never being Kenny, I never suffered what would have been an even bigger letdown of having Kenny Easley say one day that he loves the Seahawks, loves the fans, wants to win the Superbowl with the Seahawks, and a few months later do a 180 and make irrational demands of the club in order to force the Seahawks to sell him to the San Francisco 49ers. Easley’s career, instead, was allegedly cut short by the Seahawks who he blamed for feeding him pills which eventually led to kidney replacement surgery. Bitter statements were followed by lawsuits and plenty of bad blood but none of it ever reflected badly on Kenny in my eyes. My 14 year-old self will always easily slip under the veil of number 45 in order to imagine myself a towering strong safety, picking the ball off in the flat and running it back for a touchdown against the Niners.

In my first few years watching Arsenal I had a similar experience to my youth as I fell in love with the Arsenal: I appreciated Theirry Henry’s languid talent and Bergkamp’s fiery temper. Patrick Vieira was a mountain and heroic almost every minute he was on the  pitch. But this time, I wanted to be Freddie Ljungberg. Hell, I would have just been happy by that age to be able to rock Freddie’s red hair.

In the run in to the 2001/2002 season, when needed him most, Freddie went on a tear. From matchday 32 Freddie stepped up and scored in consecutive games against Charlton, Tottenham, Ipswich, West Ham, and Bolton helping Arsenal to a title showdown at Old Trafford in matchday 37. He didn’t score, but his run cut through the Man U defense and after his shot was parried by Barthez, Wiltord (who started the move) finished the Red Devils off. In my mind it was always Freddie who won that game. And then days later, Freddie shucked John Terry to the ground and curled in the winner in the FA Cup final to put the red dot on the exclamation point of that season. From that moment on I wanted to be Freddie. I dyed my hair red and for the first time in my adult life bought a replica shirt, the gold lamé away strip.

But the thing is that now days I don’t have a single player on this Arsenal team that I want to be. Sure, I’d take their wealth, talent, wives and girlfriends, and all that but it’s not the same. And it’s not about the talent of the players, surely Robin van Persie is a talent to aspire to, it’s just that I don’t see myself in him. For me and I suspect many others, the players on this team have become nothing more than entertainers: interchangeable legs in a never-ending chorus line of talent.

I do understand that many others feel his trade to Man U as a deep betrayal. A psychological twinning if you will: you could see yourself as him, and yet here he is (you) doing something that violates everything you believe in. I understand the desire to wipe his name from the record, remove it from the back of your official strip, as an old fashioned Roman Damnatio Memoriae if you will. After all, he will now be teammates and best buds with Wayne Rooney, the player who dived to win the penalty which ensured Arsenal’s unbeaten run ended at 49 games. He will play next to Giggs, who “tore us apart.” He will be wearing the red shirt of Manchester when their despicable fans gleefully call Arsene Wenger a pedophile – and he will probably go over and applaud them after the match.

For me, it’s just business. A particularly nasty bit of business that was unfortunately forced on Arsenal by the irrational demands of a deluded nincompoop and his agent who we now know thought they were bigger than the club. But Arsenal’s hands were tied and the deal is done and no matter how angry we are at the club right now, it will pass.

That said, I empathize with those of you who wanted to be Robin. I never suffered the same fate with my hero, he didn’t go out by burning down the Danny Fiszman bridge; he just faded away and bought a car dealership.

Qq

51 thoughts on “Robin van Persie signs for Man U: Damnatio Memoriae

  1. +10 Vote -1 Vote +1freddie (really my name)

    Again a very well-written post. I only recently started reading your blog, and must say it is excellent.

  2. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Jon

    Tim,

    You are about 5 years older than me, but we both grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I remember Dave Kreig and Steve Largent. And your Kenny Easley moment for me – 1988 Wayne Gretzky traded to the Kings.

    I, like you, am not hurt by this one. I think we’ve done good business for the club, both in the financial sense and in the sense that we have protected the integrity of the Club. No one player is bigger than the Club, and never will be. Not Titi, not Cesc, not Tony, and certainly not Robin. I find that as I age a bit and go through these sagas I am less attached to the players, though no less attached to the team. If the players treat it like a job, I see no reason why I cannot shift my own psychology slightly as well. I love Arsenal. I love the players we have while they are ours. When they are gone, there is still the Arsenal.

    Cheers,

    Jon

  3. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    In that picture of RVP and SAF, RVP doesn’t look happy at all. He looks a bit sick. I hope the enormity of what he’s done sinks in, and he fades into nothingness. He can have his 200k a week, but I hope the guilt isn’t worth it.

    1. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

      Pretty sure that picture is photo-shopped. Van Persie will have a picture taken with Sralex after the medical, not before.

  4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Scott (USA)

    Good read. I am looking forward to the season and really like the team. I think RVP will miss Arsenal. Choices are made and for Arsenal I think the right one. For RVP?

  5. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1BayGooner

    You’re not him because you’re not 14. You are an adult, a professional, a father. What’s sad is how many grow ups feel as you did back then.

    I would’ve thought you’d liken his departure to Arod’s taking the wad from Hicks, or was it Gilette? Me? I took it hard when a scumbag took my team to Texas. As San A’s fan, you learn they don’t stay, period, one they hit six years.

    Robin has been generating about a goal a game for the past four years. Had he taken better care of himself, I have no doubt he’d have won trophies – and he still would have gone. He’s a pro. It was always about money.

    And every Olympian would agree – footballers are no different.

  6. +2 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    One of your best…hats off (again).

    The contrast and transformation of the heros of youth to the cutthroat mercenaries of adulthood is a coming of age we all experience, but this one has unique and sharp angles.

    As a grown-up for me it was Emmitt Smith after that monumental game against the NY Giants in which he separated his shoulder. He went into half-time unable to support it, got taped up, took a shot and ran for 165 yards and literally carried the Cowboys into the playoffs and eventually, another Superbowl title. True, he didn’t end his career in Dallas, but by then he had given his best. He’ll always be remembered as a Cowboy.

    I’ll never remember van Persie as a Gunner, or celebrate him in anyway beyond his one shining season, and as just another Gunner that had to go (to the tune of the Gotye song..)

  7. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Micheal

    I for 1 am certainly not angry at the club, it was good business. Having said that I cannot forgive VP. He has been at AFC for 8 years, and since the premiership, Man U have been our biggest rivals ( I discount the spuds as I don’t see them as competitors ) to actually WANT to go there is to me is unforgivable. Any other premiership club for me, I could have accepted as a greed thing, but Utd never.
    I personally look forward to the headline “Fatman and Robin fall out”

  8. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

    Pragmatic but one that for once I can’t accept. Yeah it was business but one that was forced on us by Van Persie. I can very well understand the club’s position to sell to Utd., as their hands were tied but Van Persie’s treachery makes Cole look like William Wallace.

    I fully agree with the part where you can’t really look into any of these players as heroes anymore. I thought RVP was going to be one of them and I always believed he had Arsenal blood in him. I don’t know if you remember the article I wrote for you on my first visit to the Emirates, I even mentioned that. This one hurts me more than Cesc.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I wouldn’t mind him for the captain’s armband but that would carry the curse of losing him next season to scums.:D

  9. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Metalhead

    “I don’t have the inclination to go anywhere. This is the best team for me to be in.
    “The bottom line is that I want to win trophies with Arsenal, not with anybody else. I know you can win trophies in many countries and in many ways, but I want to do that in our way and in an Arsenal shirt.
    “I’m sure I could win things at another team in another country, but would it feel like our trophy, my trophy? I’m not sure it would. Anything we win here will come from the heart and that’s what I want.
    “It’s my dream and I see no point in speaking about other teams when I have these dreams. I think other people know that about me; I’m just hungry to win with Arsenal and that’s it.”

    I swear I just lost faith in footballers. These guys are supposed to be heroes. Turns out most of our footballers are liars. Gutted!

  10. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1darthwenger

    A small corection – freddie made terry taste mud during the FA cup before setting up the winner against Manu!
    That aside, how sweet would it be if we can win the league again at manu? – would be fantastic to see VP’s face if that were to happen!

  11. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Tim, thanks for the catharsis. Fans who are agonizing will definitely need this. Others, we don’t give a f**k about RvP until we play ManUre.

  12. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    I’m relieved the saga is finally over, and I understand where the zen is coming from for a few of you, but I’m still in shock that we sold to United. For some reason, even City appealed more than United, while PSG or Juventus would have been infinitely better.

    To see United’s fans gloating in his arrival and our misery, to read the football “experts” in the media take a break from sucking Sralex’s cock to tell us that Sralex is a transfer and tactical genius for landing his man, and how this is the class of ’99 reborn, and the treble is on, blah blah. It galls! It galls!

    It will be almost (ALMOST) bearable if we continue to show ambition in the transfer market between now and the end of August. I realize we’ve already done great business, but a statement needs to be made, and it needs to be made in terms of player arrivals. I’m not necessarily talking about buying another striker, but a world-class defensive midfielder would be welcome, as would a keeper (looking unlikely) and RB (really unlikely).

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1nycgunner

      I can’t stand the gloating and the sralex ass licking. Last week my Utd loving retard of a friend sent an Email about how idiotic it is for Utd. to spend 25MM on a glass kneed 29 year old and from yesterday he’s been acting like he’s just gotten laid for the first time in his life.

      It sucks that the events transpired the way it did and I blame it all on Van Pursey. You are exactly right about the transfers – it would send a statement and more importantly, add depth but I would be surprised if anybody else comes in even if Song leaves (which looks like is gonna happen). In one of his preseason interviews Wenger said that the MF is crowded, so that gives me no hope.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        True, he did say the midfield was crowded, but then again, according to reliable sources, we are / were after Sahin long before the Song-to-Barca rumor surfaced. This is the one small shred of hope I have that we aren’t yet done in the transfer market.

      2. -3 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        Song leaving will really confirm us as a developmental club honestly.

        It may also precipitate others to follow.

        Not least Walcott.

        I suppose we could bargain for Affelay in exchange for Song in anticipation of a Walcott departure but to me, this is too much change for us so close into season.

        I would hold Song at all cost. I think the board can get away with RVP going but Song would be a different matter. Witha contract into 2015, we should be able to hold him. otherwise we are proving RVP’s point.

      3. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1GoonerAU

        *WERE* a developmental club – we will still have our academy bringing through talen, but I hardly see that the players bought for > GBP5m will be developments.

        Wenger is moving on the team that hasn’t won anything for the last 7 years. The over reliance on youth is over – the club has matured.

    2. +1 Vote -1 Vote +11niltothearsenal

      Bunburyist, I share your anger, especially as it’s Man U. We have made our rivals stronger. This is a team which in the recent years when it HASN’T won the title, has just been pipped to the post on the very last day of the season. City last year and Chelsea 3 years before. Now they have RvP, Rooney, Welbeck and Chicharito. With those options, he doesn’t have to be a goal scoring machine.

      I don’t see City repeating. They almost cocked it up last year and will feel even more pressure to repeat. It’s going to be Man U and Chelsea again. It will be the sweetest feeling in the world if we can sneak up on them and give them a real go.

      Despite this somewhat inevitable turn of events, I haven’t been this excited for the season to start in long, long time.

  13. -9 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

    Song now has a ‘disgusting attitude’, getting.fans onside to sell him, and boo him of course when he returns (if we’re still in the situation where this is possible.) Reported from confidential sources within the club, eaten up quickly on Twitter. So club can now sell leading assist getter without alienating fans. A win for them. Van Persie actually wanted to stay, leaks an Arsenal source, so the perception that we are weak and in decline is nonsense, Wenger actually could have kept RvP, but was so infuriated that he cashed in on principle. Arsenal FC, a sporting entity that engages in reverse intelligence on its own fanbase parotting a mantra that enriches who knows whom, taking millions of pounds from earnest fans who pony up year after year to see a team grow together, then be gutted for speculation at the end. Don’t worry, we can still get big fees for Ox and Jack next year, so the FFP acolytes worrying we might make a loss next year if we buy big names and extend costly contracts, no need. We won’t be in the red next year either,.and shareholders won’t have to starve. We need to buy a few more promising talents we can sell in the summer of 2014 though, although i suppose Vermaelen and Sagna could go if we want to skew older this season. A joke.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

      I’m not concern with RVP although it is a bit chaffing to see him ship off to United.

      I would have preferred that we kept him for 4 months till January with risk of losing him for free rather than potentially strengthening the old enemy/title contender.

      Alas, they triggered the price I expected we would sell (23m). Considering I didn’t think we’d get 18m tops for him, I must say wenger has done well to drive the price up in his position.

      I think the more critical issue though is Song.

      Whilst we are forced between a rock and a hard place thanks to RVP’s antics, I don’t see why we should cave in to pressure from Barca being that Song’s contract runs on till 2015.

      Selling him now to me reinforces the wrong message for us and may cascade further down the ranks (Walcott). Plus, we should not be tinkering too much going into the season as we are and having a new player come in to familiarise himself at this point seems daft. The fact that they know we need to replace Song will also further drive prices up as far as our possible replacements are concerned.

      So I hope we hold on to Song and postpone any acrimonious departure on his part a little further down the line.

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1jaymin

        Well we are a very effective talent pool for bigger clubs, and we made a very difficult sale in very difficult circumstances, and at such a fine price. so i’m sure this is chalked up to a win by our powers that be.

        I hope you’re right about Song, because if we sell him with 3 years left on a contract because he and his spawnchild agent under the pretense of “he’s being disgusting” (which the club has already leaked), then we will be a joke to everyone who knows what’s what (more than we already are.) Arsenal M.O.: get the fans onboard any potential sale by leaking information about a player’s “attitude” or “conduct”, don’t deal with it in house, and then sell with impunity. hell, make the fans happy you’ve gotten rid of the “problem” player, pump out their chests and proclaim “We’re better off without him!” however crucial he proved, which I guess means we are becoming as nostalgic as Liverpool fans, and content to rebuild our squad every season.

        Trouble is that as well and good this might or might not be for our nebulous financial status (all top secret…), our stature has been altered. Arsenal is not viewed as a top club anymore. This was true last season. Now, selling the most popular player, the most extolled player, in the EPL, to your former bitter rivals, alleviating them of negative press from their failed IPO and simultaneously making them favorites to win the EPL, for 24 million pounds… not the look of ambition that’s going to convince a top 22 year old midfielder and his agent to reject an offer from, say…Liverpool. They’d have to study it. This is our level now, and its from the accumulation of 5 straight years of allowing us to be made diamond makers for diamond buyers across Europe.

      2. Vote -1 Vote +1santori

        If we hold fast on Song, we will be takens eriously.

        If we sell Song IMO, we have vindicated RVP and every two bit naysayer, shot ourselves in the foot for start of season, made findinga replacement for the righ price that much harder and set course an unwanted precedance of truly gigantic proportion to come.

        Sounds apocalytic.:D

      3. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Shard

        Or we’ve just decided to be shot of all the players represented by Dein and start afresh. If we sell Song it won’t be under pressure. Not because we have to. But we decide to.

    2. Vote -1 Vote +1gsco

      And that moon landing was totally faked…
      Need to lay off the conspiracy theories a little bit maybe…

  14. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1santori

    With regards money in from RVP, I hope we buy ourselves a third striker up top.

    I’d like to see someone younger being that both shiny new strikers are entering peak age.

    We could do with a bit of speed, technicality and mobility to match Giroud’s massive frame.

    I would think Jovetic (22) or Leandro (22) are both worth looking at albeit the latter will be somewhat afflicted by the crazy over inflated price bubble the Brasilian market seems to have wrapped itself in at the moment.

    An alternative Brasilian could be Pato (still only 23 I believe). Quick and technical. Might fit into our current frame of rehabilitating potentially great players who may have gone slightly astray in Podolski, Metersecker etc.

    I think we have money left too (non dependant on RVp’s sale) for a reinforcement in midfield if need be I won’t want to see Song go so this player may be more of an alternate solution in concerrt with Diaby or Coquelin if Song takes a knock.

    Sahin looks interesting if we can still wangle it with regards a sell on clause. He has good defensive habits but offers something going forward. On loan for a season, we’ll know what he’s made of and into next summer, we will have potentially 1-2 other spots opening up in midfield with Rosicky wrong side of footballing 30 (and Arteta)

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Micheal

      I believe Sahin has signed for Liverpool, subject to confirmation of course.
      As regards Song, I have previously posted my suspicions that all isn’t quite as it seems. Having said that a broadcaster who I regard as knowledgeable on Barca affairs ( Graham Hunter ) makes out it won’t happen. Who knows?

      1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

        That’s a real shame, if true (about Sahin going to Liverpool). I think regardless of Song’s situation (and regardless of what current young midfielder it might “kill”), we should be looking to strengthen in that area of the pitch, and Sahin for me hit all the right notes.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1mark.va

    I think this RVPoo business will give the team an extra boost when they face ManUre this year.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Well, the news of van Persie’s departure has been softened somewhat by the concurrent departure of Kyle Bartley.

    I jest! I jest!

    Kind of. I mean, I’ve just never understood why some people rated this guy. Was it the passport?

    I wish Bartley all the best, etc.

  17. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Losing Kyle Bartley to a fellow EPL rival, oh no! Who’s going to play in the Carling Cup now? Club in crisis!

    Not.

    We are going to be just fine and actually challenge for the title. Gut instinct: (1) RvP only plays half a season with ManUre due to injury, new to loser squad, etc. Remember that AW had access to RvP “in the red zone” data and he was not very effective at the end of the season. Even though we sold to a hated rival, Arsene knows (2) Song stays this year. I don’t see how AW will let Alex Song leave yet.

    Bring on the new season. I haven’t been this excited in a long time, probably because we haven’t signed big names like Podolski and Cazorla recently. Cant wait for Saturday…

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1Scott (USA)

      Yes. Agree and I too can’t wait for the season. We have a great squad and it should be fun. Hope Song stays but I am not as enamored with him as most are.I think he is good but that’s about it.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1Cord4Gooner

    When the Yet to balloon up Shawn Kemp was offloaded to the Cavs … Wow that one hurt, especially watching him in the next All-Star game for the East in that ugly Cavs jersey!!! ouch ….

  19. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Jacob

    I’m 14 now and I don’t want to be rvp but do feel like he let everybody down. He had an interview after the barca game and he said he ran into an old man on the street in his town who told him that he’d been watching arsenal for 50 years and that night was the best game he’d ever seen. I feel like van Persie was like those people that wear the jersey but honestly couldn’t care less (you’ve all seen these people) and rvp has been pretending for the last 2 years. He thinks he’s bigger than the club but he’s not and he’ll realize that when he comes to the emirates on the same bus as Shrek and giggs. Arsenal is my team and they have a world class team not 11 world class players.

  20. Vote -1 Vote +1iamdein

    behind the scenes, the club needs to examine why its big players don’t want to extend their deals. We’ve been active in the market since the last days of August 2011. But our starting line up is unrecognisable compared to two years ago; it’s been a perpetual state of flux. We are left relying on a fair few new additions hitting the ground running very quickly this season. Nevertheless, come Saturday afternoon, when it all starts again, let’s buckle ourselves in and enjoy the ride. I can’t wait

  21. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1gsco

    I thought Arseblog had a good summation and pretty much represented my feelings about the situation. I’m disappointed. I thought RVP wanted to be a part of Arsenal history. I struggle to understand how out of touch he can be to want to throw that away.
    My young son really got into him and even asked for a RVP Holland shirt to go with his RVP Arsenal shirt. I have to tell him that he has left the team. Luckily, he is young enough to not fully feel the burn of him going to ManU. I am a little angry for him. But more at myself for thinking RVP might be different and allowing him to worship him. My daughter has Song on the back of her shirt. WTF. No more names on the backs of shirts anymore. Just Arsenal shirts because it’s the team we love.
    Arsenal did what they had to do. I’m excited for the season to start and maybe the players will have some extra motivation. The best thing the team can do is perform and make sure they beat manure.

  22. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1JV Mauer

    The Lying Dutchman is off to Manure then. May he bless their Medicos with as many opportunites to improve their craft as he did ours.

  23. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1T-Town

    Joining the conversation late, since I have spent 5 days hiking in Zion National Park.
    - I think selling RVP to ManU is absolutely brilliantly Machiavel at his best. It’s great $ for a old injury prone player which I personally never really liked. His market value is never going to be any higher. And his only good year is behind him.
    - For ManU, he is more tactical and dressing room challenges than solutions. They already have a RVP-type named Berbatov.
    - Simple math: (Podolski + Giroud) > RVP

    This arsenal team is the strongest in 2-3+ years.

    Note to Tim:
    The only named jerseys I ever bought are Zidane (France) and Ozil (Real Madrid). I am thinking the third is Cazorla.

  24. Vote -1 Vote +1marek

    Very interesting post. It made me think about the reasons why I even watch Arsenal. If I was 20 years younger, it’d probably be because of the players, wanting to be like them, etc. When you’re young, it’s easier to view another human being as an embodiment of perfection or at least something to aspire to. But then you get older, you realize those giants of yesteryear were just men (some of whom now own a car dealership, or a restaurant, or work as bouncers or whatever), and what is left is attachment to the club. Not the club as in the current board and manager, but the club as in the intangible values that it is supposed to stand for. It makes it easier to take a departure such as RvP’s – the club will go on.

    Perhaps in assigning the special value to the club that I remember assigning to individual players I am again being naive, but so be it.

  25. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    Okay, okay, gut instinct about Song was wrong. But now we won’t worry about him come African Cup of Nations,etc. Another benchwarmer at Barcelona courtesy of the mighty Arsenal. Look for the new-look Arsenal starting at 6:50 am Pacific Standard Time tomorrow at an ESPN channel in your neighborhood.

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