Vieira and van Persie statements nothing alike

On June 25th, 2001 Arsenal’s combative midfielder Patrick Vieira unleashed a volley aimed straight at the Arsenal board and Arsenal’s double-winning French manager, Arsene Wenger. Speaking to the Sun, Vieira tread what are now well worn boards demanding a trade “not for the money” but because “the club lacks ambition.” He lashed out at Arsenal’s parsimonious transfer policy, claiming the club’s £25m transfer budget, which was spent on Franny Jeffers and Gio van Bronckhorst, virtually guaranteed that the famous London team would finish outside of the top five. Savaging Wenger’s new signings and dismissing comments from teammates Thierry Henry and Robert Pires as losers who have “won nothing with Arsenal.”

People should know this is nothing to do with money. I need to leave because I want to win more trophies and I just cannot see that happening at Arsenal. Certainly not over the next few years, anyway. Comparing Arsenal to the big clubs in Europe this season is going to be quite ridiculous. I do not honestly see Arsenal finishing in the top five in the league – and you can forget the Champions League.

It was an amazing interview and you can read the quotes in full in this archive.

I have seen a number of people try to draw a comparison to Vieira’s statement and Robin van Persie’s. These folks especially like to draw comparisons between that statement and the subsequent never ending transfer saga which surrounded the Senegalese midfielder until he finally signed for Juventus, earning Arsenal £20m in July of 2005. And further draw a line between Arsenal signing Giroud and Podolski near the time that Robin released his statement and Arsenal signing Sol Campbell just eight days after Vieira’s interview.

But there are a number of problems with this comparison.

The first problem is that Vieira was not Arsenal captain at the time of his statement and Robin van Persie was. Vieira wouldn’t be captain until Tony Adams retired at the end of the season. Not taking anything away from the harshness of Vieira’s assessment, and in fact his interview is far worse than Robin’s measured statement in many ways, but there’s a difference between an important player giving an interview and a captain giving a similar interview. The captain is the person that everyone looks up to for guidance. In this case, Robin’s guidance is to shout “abandon ship” as he climbs into a lifeboat and sets himself to sail.

The second major problem with the two players is that Vieira had actually given “100%” to the club as he said in the interview when telling Henry and Pires to shut up. In his first five seasons, Vieira had already played 222 games for Arsenal, averaging 44.4 games a year. Moreover, he played those games with a massive target on his back with the likes of Roy Keane kicking him at every turn. In contrast, it’s harder for Robin to say he’s given 100% to the club. He’s been at Arsenal for eight years and has played just 277 matches. That’s a difference of -10 games a season over Vieira’s commitment. Arsenal carried Robin for three major injury hit seasons out of his eight. He owes the club, the fans, and the manager more respect than that.

The third difference is that Robin van Persie released his statement on his web site. He took time to craft exactly what he wanted to say and in doing so got in some petty digs at Ivan Gazidis. Vieira’s interview was actually a 180 on his statement of just a few days earlier that everything was fine with the club and he was happy. The difference is subtler here in that Vieira was later able to use the old “taken out of context” retort and also to hide a bit behind the Sun’s tarnished reputation. Vieira also manged to blame his agent, Marc Roger, for his interview.

And the final difference is how quickly Vieira reversed his position. In 2001, many places reported that Marc Robert, Vieira’s agent, basically lined up a deal for Vieira with either Real Madrid or Man U around mid-June of 2001. After that there was a face-to-face meeting between Vieira and Robert, and Dein and Wenger in which Vieira expressed his desire to leave and the club apparently refused. Vieira then gave his interview to the Sun on June 25th and everything blew up. Eight days later, Arsenal sign Sol Campbell and that very day there was an interview in the BBC with Giles Grimandi in which the Frenchman said that everything was basically smoothed over between Vieira, his teammates, and the club.

Vieira apologized almost immediately after the interview hit the streets, privately blaming his agent Marc Robert for the mixup. In fact, it was in Vieira’s apology where he basically blamed his agent for the interview with the Sun which in turn led to the FA looking into the matter — finally concluding that Man U did not tap up Vieira. By July 17th, Arsene Wenger was already saying that there was nothing to talk about and though the press persisted with the rumors all summer, Vieira played for Arsenal that season as the Gunners did the double.

In contrast, it’s been over a month since his Independence day rocket and Robin van Persie has not yet issued any statement, much less an apology.  This summer, Arsenal have arguably shown a tremendous amount of ambition, signing three top players from three of the top leagues for around £35m. I’m more inclined to believe Vieira’s statement that it was about ambition and not about money because he changed his mind so quickly. But with Robin his silence in the face of Arsenal clearly showing their ambitions speaks to me that it was always about money and never about ambition.

In the end, Patrick Vieira’s time at Arsenal, and especially the years after he took captaincy, will always be marred by him and his agent’s summer disruptions. Vieira even further tarnished his Arsenal legacy by getting involved in the Nasri transfer last summer, earning him opprobrium from many Gunners faithful. But just as equally, he will be remembered as the heart and lungs of three title winning sides and the captain of the greatest team to ever grace the Sceptered Isle, the Invincibles.

I’m not sure that Robin van Persie will enjoy such absolution but it’s all down to him and his ambitions.



35 thoughts on “Vieira and van Persie statements nothing alike

  1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Jah Gooner

    About time you pissed off eh Robin, off to the Munichs if you want, hero to zero in record breaking time, well done mate…..{slow clap}


  2. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Metalhead

    I think Arsene Wenger and the Arsenal board have made Van Per$ie look like a fool with all the signings. Arsenal must ensure they keep Van Per$ie for this season even if it means losing him for free. The 3 signings made will be meaningless if he leaves.

  3. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1Double98

    vieira is a mancity mercenary – he left in a cloud, dragging and moaning like a tart. So long and thanks for all the fish guys… Adams, Wright, Henry and Bergkamp – legends. Vieira, RVP, Fabregas – pretenders

  4. +3 Vote -1 Vote +11NilToTheArsenal

    The two situations make an interesting comparison. Despite the different eras of trad print press and social media/personal websites, one thing remains true: footballers lose a measure of credibility when they let their mouths do the talking instead of their feet.

    Patience run this at such moments. At least van Persie has had the good sense to keep it zipped with head down and practice boots on. Whether he stays or goes, another word from him would be one too many right now.

    Bring on the season already. COYG!

  5. +4 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    About time you posted today, Tim. Next time, less chat roulette, more bloggy bloggy, yes? Geez.

  6. Vote -1 Vote +1Nikki

    A splendid work on ending the comparison of Vieira-VP situation. There is still an argument of VP never issued to leave the club. And i think that there’s a hint of truth in that. I speculate that the reason VP not stating an apology after our superb summer business is because, just like you said, our wage offer did not match his valuation. After that statement, we seems to not give in to his wage demands. If we can match his demands, i think Vieiraesque apology will be state by VP. But that is a big if..

  7. -5 Vote -1 Vote +1silentstan

    so because RVP has been out injured your determination is that he in turn has not given 100%. what utter nonesense.

    Plus tell me, just what is it that RVP said in his statement that 99% of fans have not themselves been saying. I do not see anything for RVP to apologise for. Unlike many bloggers who miss no opportunity to take somne kind of high ground, when in fact they and proper journo’s are the biggest stirrers of shit this club ever had

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1Eurazian

      I don’t think that’s what Tim is implying. More that RVP has been at Arsenal for 8 seasons yet only in his 8th did he actually deliver on the promise of his talent – of being a great player for a full season. Yet Arsenal and Arsene Wenger kept faith with him through the difficult years.
      Now RVP feels like he owes us nothing.
      Vieira may have acted like a dick in 2001, but in all his time at our club, he delivered on the pitch where it counted. No one thinks Vieira still owes us anything.

  8. Vote -1 Vote +1Dacid

    I have a sneaking suspicion that RVP only wanted to move to City, but considered Juventus along the way, and that having been rejeected by both of these options due to mismangament by the respective clubs left only Man U.

    He came out on July 4rg with that acrimonous statement in order to arrract the two said clubs and at the sametime push for a decent wage rise, and given that his scoring ability carried Arsenal into a Xhampions league place, he certainly would be entitled to a bonus ( just ask any banker).

    Now he is in a situation whereby the two clubs he favoured joining are no longer in the frame he is left with only Man U, the team the press would have everyone beleieve was his first choice but this has never been confirmed by RVP or his agent.

    Now if RVP does wish to join Man U, then he has to tell Arsenal on the other hand if he does not wish to join Man U, then the corner he has backed himself into by his aforesaid comments can be overcome by him quite easily, without him losing face, by simply saying Arsenal will not counternance my transfer to Man U. Then continue playing for Arsenal and at some point in the future when he is cup tied in the Champions League he accepts Arsenals very generous offer and signs a 3 year extension to his contract. Amd he comes up smelling of roses with a reasonable deal in his pocket, and his wife and children happy.

    If Arsenal hold him to his contract and he goes on a free next year, then the income he earned the club through his goal scoring efforts getting the club into the Champions League will be balanced by the loss of revenue if he walks free in 2013.

    My view is he will be an Arsenal player until May 2013 based on the foregoing

    1. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1caribkid


      The problems with most fans, including me, is that we have no idea whatsoever of the true situation and no clue as to what RVP’s intentions were. We then take it upon ourselves to make allegations which are not even based on factual events.

      The even bigger problem with that, is that we are left to look even more stupid than the tabloids because they are at least making money from these wayward allegations.

      I have a sneaky suspicion RVP’s wife has made it plain she will refuse him sexual access and will bed JT if he leaves London, and so, he has made a dramatic reversal and will now stay and become an Arsenal legend.

      1. Vote -1 Vote +1Dacid

        I that RVP wikk ve at Arsenal at least till the end of the 2012-13 season, I maybe over optimisitc but that is my gut feeling

    1. +8 Vote -1 Vote +1Tim Post author

      You’re welcome to see your way out now. Don’t come back until you learn some manners. Thanks and have a nice life.

      1. +3 Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

        Critic shoulda seen that coming. You can disagree but if you’re gonna be an ignorant dick, you should get booted

  9. +2 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

    Perhaps this is just the optimistic in me clinging to hope, but I don’t think the situations are too dissimilar. You’ve outlined the differences brilliantly, of course, but I still think there is ample time for RVP to backtrack – it’s laid out for him. He can say the club delivered on its promises to him, he sees us challenging, and that he never meant to disrespect the club he loves. Arsene will blame his agent and say RVP was poorly advised, and the board will sit smugly by and say that their ambition as a big club won the day, and that we are not a selling club.

    And the fans will forgive after RVP scores a brace against the Spuds, or Fat Sam, or the Mancs, or anyone else we hate. I just hope RVP is smart enough not to do an Adebayor, and avoids kissing the badge.

  10. Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    So, Rennes confirms they’ve had a concrete bid from a Premier League club for Yann M’Vila. It could be us. It could be…who else needs someone like him? United? Spurs?

    Hm. M’Vila or Sahin… What to do, what to do.

    1. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Zeddington

      I call bollocks. Rennes are trying to pressure us into a bid. Apparently we hold all the aces, which is why we’re biding our time. I don’t think any other team has actually bid at all, and whereas last summer his quoted price was something like 30m, we may get him for below 10m.

  11. Vote -1 Vote +1Ssinderias

    I remember the summer of 2001. Vieira’s statement didn’t seem to affect the team as negatively because the clarification came so quickly. RvP on the other hand has been an ass by satying quiet. Nothing dignified about it. There are times when one must come out and clarify. RvP is hiding, not taking the higher road

  12. +7 Vote -1 Vote +1AmericanGunnerFan

    I’ve said this on some other sites: the dean of American sports talk radio has often said about athletes in many professional sports, “Whenever they say “It’s not about the money!”, it’s about the money.”

    Evidence: 1.)RVP made his statement after Arsenal acquired Podolski, while the club was showing interest in acquiring other players; 2.) RVP (or his agent) said he wasn’t interested in going to ManU unless he was paid as much as Rooney and ManU has only become a factor since saying they would pay him that much.

    Promises were made to RVP and/or his agent, probably by Man City, that he would receive a much higher salary than Arsenal could afford and that they would do whatever was necessary to get him. But Mancini hasn’t gotten the money to do that from his board–notice how he has been sulking about that–so that deal fell through. Juve simply doesn’t have the cash to pay Arsenal 20 million and give RVP what he wants, so they have dropped out. Leaving ManU and “Rudoph (aka Alex) the Red-Nosed Scottish Reindeer” as the only one left with the means to satisfy Arsenal and RVP–especially since their big bid for Lucas Moura fell through.

    This leaves RVP in a box. Unless “Rudolph (aka Alex) the Red-Nosed Scottish Reindeer” swoops down from the North with sufficient cash in his sleigh to satisfy Arsenal now, RVP will have to see out his contract this year. In that event, RVP can’t sulk and will have to play well–because, unlike Cesc or Nasri, sulking or poor play won’t sit well with the owners of teams he may hope to sign with: he’s going to be 30 when he hits the market and won’t have much upside or be forgiven for want to go back home. And, even if he stays healthy all season, with Podolski and Giroud joining Arsenal, RVP won’t be getting as much playing time as last season and could even be passed over if he doesn’t play well. All of which means that RVP is very likely to find it quite hard to get offered the same kind of money after playing out his contract with Arsenal as he was promised or might be able to make at ManU if he gets through a transfer now.

    Would holding onto RVP cost Arsenal money if he were to leave on a Bosman after this season? Yes. But, it could cost RVP even more proportionately. With Cazorla, Podolski, Giroud and RVP, Arsenal would have a pretty good chance at making the Champions League again and might even challenge for silverware. Is that worth losing the 15 million that ManU have been offering (or perhaps even 20 million)? How much less would RVP get on the open market if he were injured again this season? Or, if he were to score only 28 goals in a more balanced and diverse Arsenal attack? If ManU doesn’t come up with as much as Arsenal wants for RVP and he has to start the season with Arsenal, it might be very much in RVP’s interest to reconsider the contract extension that Arsenal has tabled–it might be better than any offer that he may get after this season (especially if these other clubs move on and bring in other players and RVP stats aren’t as good as they were last season).

    If it’s really about winning trophies, RVP should have been willing to take less than “Rooney money” to leave, so that Juve or ManU could pay what Arsenal wants. But RVP didn’t do that. And, now, ManU is going to have to pay whatever Arsenal wants if they want RVP this season. But they and other clubs may not be willing to pay RVP what he wants if he leaves on a Bosman after this season. So, at this point, Arsenal is the one holding the trump cards. And RVP is right to keep quiet for now because he just may find that he may lose a lot if Arsenal isn’t inclined to sell him this season.

  13. +5 Vote -1 Vote +1gunman

    Aliadiere scored against psg yesterday :) . The way we helped him train with us and helped him find new club , and the way we treat and are always happy to help some of our ex players (did it with pires too), oozes so much class about the club. Good to see jeremy doing well now back in france.

  14. +6 Vote -1 Vote +1Micheal

    Tim, you omitted whether by design AW’s great put down of Viera. When Viera complained that the signings weren’t top class, AW retorted ” you weren’t top class when I bought you”.

  15. Vote -1 Vote +1Jeff Smith

    I just hope Wenger will stick to his guns. 25 million for RVP. Not a penny less. If the red faced is desperate to buy the dm,he shd pay the price demanded.If not no deal and let the dm go for free next summer.
    Of course things may not turn the way Arsenal want.
    For starters, RVP has not asked for a transfer.Football is unpredictable. Assuming he goes to O T,re d faced will immediately be installed as favourites for the quad ie FA,cl.epl and Carling.I just hope he gets to the final of the 3 cups and is beaten in all three cups. That would really delight me.

  16. Vote -1 Vote +11steved1

    I loved paddy when he was our captain and you can’t take his achievements with us lightly as he was bloody brilliant but that’s history because now (and no doubt this makes me a typical person of sorts) it’s Patrick who? Oh that prat!

  17. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    3-0 Arsenal. We’re looking very sharp today. Giroud has had 2 point blank saves and a header saved. We need to trade our GK (Mannone) for theirs. King Poldi with 2 and respectful celebrations. 3rd was a header from Vermaelen.

    Casorla looks real comfortable and you can tell he’s a thrilla dilla from the south.

    We look really nice when teams let us play football. Next up Sunderland.

    How ironic that Ramsey now holds Shawcross international career in his hands. Pay back is a biotch.

  18. Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Now Arsenal are getting serious and are bringing on Song in the 2nd half. What with the hiked up shorts dude?

    Arshavin in the hole replaces Casorla.

    Diaby is being risked in this friendly.

    King Poldi off and now an RVP sighting to show the new boys how its done at Arsenal.

    Lehmann surprises Szczesny with a 30 yarder off the cross bar.

    Gervinho gets the 4th. Gervinho is going to be a monster this season.

  19. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1ctpa

    Gervinho starting to show some of his old hesitancy moves in the box on good setups. Just let it fly.

    RVP getting boo hoo hoos.

    Except for a Mannone butterfinger moment the team looks pleasing on the eye. Attack had good flow with no one dwelling on the ball except for once in the first half. No stupid back heels to the opponent. No failing to get back on defense. Solid effort against a nonthreatening FC Koln.

    1. Vote -1 Vote +1NorCalArsenal

      Yes. A very nice run out to finish off the pre-season. Poldi had a sweet finish. Looked lively throughout. Giroud could have had a couple on a different day. Cazorla is class. Looked so composed and sure on the ball. Gervinho had a nice goal but still could have done even better. He does best when he reacts and stops thinking. Needs to first time hit some of those!!!
      Alex played well. Defense was as solid as it needed to be but there were some cheap give always in the midfield that will end up goals in the league if they are not stopped.
      All in all a good performance.
      Bring on the season!

  20. +1 Vote -1 Vote +1Bunburyist

    Gervinho’s goal was indeed impressive, but earlier he was indecisive with a shot that should have been hit at first touch, and then again when he did shoot into a defender’s legs when it was easier to pass to Podolski when the latter had the goal at his mercy.

    Gervinho has had a great pre-season, and he looked lively again today. I really hope he has a great second season. I’m sure he’ll get even better once he gets to know his teammates better.

  21. Vote -1 Vote +1Cliffy

    The good thing from yesterday was that we didn’t seem to miss Sagna..or Koln had bad left midfielders..the moves from them came more or less straight forward..
    Some nice defending from Santos when he came on…
    Mikel Arteta didnt get game time…?
    Impressed with Poldi and Giroud….but the latter need to be a little more running about..particularly against PL teams..koln was nice and friendly..

    I say we keep Arshavin and let him run out his contract…

    Its a nice feeling after the match..and realise that a few more of Rosicky, Wilshere and Ramsey is still in our Arsenal..

    Poldi taking no.9 was surprising..i hope they give him 10..
    If RVP can show that gesture to Klasless Huntelaar, this is easy…I think, that would make a good return back into the folds once all bidders flip their hands..

  22. -1 Vote -1 Vote +1Greg

    Up front we ticked over nicely and scored some good goals without ever really looking like we got out of second gear. Could have had more as well. That’s always nice to see.

    Frustrating to see the defence struggle to pass the ball out from the back against Koln’s early pressing. This is what all teams we play against this year will do to us. They know they can nick the ball off us at the back and create cheap opportunities. Hopefully Szcz czn mzx it up a bit with his distribution, and our fullbacks and deep midfielders can all stay switched on so we can beat the press. Cazorla, Arteta and Wilshere will be priceless with their technical ability coming deep to collect the ball.

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