By Patrick Grove
It’s tough as an Arsenal fan right now out there. This week, no matter how you view the two monumental topics of Arsenal news, feel s dark. We have gone through the loss of players and off field/Boardroom dramas before. This time though, their close proximity makes them feel quite different. It’s been incredibly hard, even for me who tends to be an AFC optimist, not to be caught up in the negative vibes emanating from our beloved club. Funny how quickly things change. Ten days ago we were jumping up and down about how well we were conducting our business this summer, having already made two relatively big name signings. Now look at us.I find it hard to believe that there was no financial motive for RvP’s letter. He may want to win trophies and he may not see that as possible at Arsenal in the near future, but the manner in which he broke this news was entirely out of line. Just last year, 15 months ago to be exact, van Persie was making statements like, “I only want to win trophies with Arsenal”* and now he’s ready to leave. He’s made it impossible for Arsenal to keep him to see out his contract now, unless they are willing to take a financial hit on principle (and they’ve done that before). They could force him to see out his contract, he refuses to play, they can counter by withholding his pay, and then he can leave as a 30 year old on a Bosman next summer after a year on the bench. Can’t see too many teams offering 200k/wk then. However, this would be a huge loss of money/resources and the club would be absolutely crucified if it did this.
At this point, the only recourse is to sell as quickly as possible and to use the money from the sale to acquire more talent and fill more of the gaps in our squad. It won’t be easy and if I’m realistic, I doubt it will happen quite like that, but it would serve the club best if this could be cleaned up as quickly as possible. They may have to take a discounted fee because of the ugliness of it all or to make sure he is sold overseas, but I think for him to be out of sight and out of mind is the best option.
Even doing this, if it happened in the next week, wouldn’t really solve the feeling of bitterness and disappointment that seems to be seeping through the fan base right now. Usmanov made quite sure of that.
His “open letter” to the Arsenal Board was really no more than a plea to the fans to lambaste Stan Kroenke into giving over the reigns of the club. Anyone who thinks the inclusion of Usmanov would be a good thing is a bit naïve I think. He may bring in money that can be used to buy top talent and pay of the stadium debt, but do I trust that he’ll keep the ethos of the club “pure.” I highly doubt it. In the short term, it would probably all be rainbows and butterflies, but in the long-term, who knows what his plans are. Don’t get me wrong, this is just opinion and solely based on the little I know of his background and dealings in Uzbekistan/Russia, but it’s hard to ignore the nagging feeling that the man is a wee bit nefarious. I mean look at him. He looks like a classic Bond villain.
His statement about “not causing conflict within the club” is contradictory and ironic. Writing that in a letter that is causing conflict within the fan base is almost comical it’s so ill-timed. The letter may have got the board’s attention, it surely got the fan base’s attention, but I doubt it will have changed anyone’s stance inside the club.
So here we are. Dark and dreary. Unsure of the future. There is only one thing that I think would really lift the club, the board, the fans, and even the players (yes they will be affected by this week too) out of the funk we have fallen into. Definitive and decisive action from the board and Wenger. Make some more strong, fast moves in the market and show the kind of intent the club hasn’t seen in a decade. Show the people, fans, players, shareholders, competitors we mean business. I choose the word show carefully as any action right now will speak far louder than any trite, manipulative, PR-laced announcement would. Give everyone hope that even after the disappointments of this week, we are Arsenal Football Club and we remain by far the greatest team, the world has ever seen.