On May 6th 1991, Arsenal secured their second league title in two years. Our opposition that day was Manchester United, who finished 25 points behind Arsenal that season, and who, grudgingly I’m sure, provided a guard of honour. Arsenal went on to beat the northerners 3-1. In actual fact, nine days after providing the guard of honour at Highbury, Manchester United beat Barcelona to win the Cup Winners Cup.
So surely there is a bigger question about Arsenal providing a guard of honour for the league winners? I think the question that needs to be asked is why Arsenal’s next game is the first of three desperate battles to get sufficient points to finish 3rd or 4th in a league we used to win regularly. If we were preparing for a semi final in the Champions League or looking forward to appearing in an FA Cup Final, would be as bothered about Robin Van Persie smirking his way through two lines of his ex-colleagues?
I don’t like Van Persie, he lacks something in my book. I remember him addressing the manager as “Wenger” when he’d been at the club for ten minutes and when he was unveiled to the Highbury crowd, he was wearing the same stupid trousers as the bass player from Iron Maiden; there were also those unfortunate allegations in Holland and he missed huge chunks of successive seasons. Did he owe Arsenal a greater degree of loyalty? Too flipping right he did!
However, last season his goals were the most significant contributory factor that enabled us to qualify for the Champions League. No Champions League, probably no Santi Cazorla and for those of you who still think Walcott is a footballer, no contract extension for young Theo either. But let’s be frank, if you are a highly skilled professional in your own field and someone offers you the chance of significant advancement and triple the salary and critically, your current employer has been in the wilderness for a few years, what would you do? Van Persie’s “crime” was to run the clock down in the same way Nasri did, but doesn’t the club have a case to answer here, by not negotiating earlier?
Van Persie underlines the fundamental difference between Arsenal and Manchester United. They are the type of club that spends £24 million on a 29 year old with dodgy knees, but we are the type of club that sells him. Over the last eight years we have sold Vieira, Henry, Adebayor, Nasri, Fabregas and RVP for a profit of £106 million (the basic difference between purchase and sale price). Good business, but how much did your season ticket cost in 2005 and what does it cost now? Do we really look like challenging for silverware?
These are better questions than whether or not we should give them a guard of honour. If you can’t make it to the game on Sunday and you’re stood next to a group of glory hunters at the pub, just remind them Arsenal always do the right thing, because our club has genuine class, if you are there, polite applause or stay on the concourses until the first whistle and then give the greedy opportunist turncoat hell.
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