RVP Doesn't Love You. Get Over It, Arsenal Fans!


The word “cult” gets banded about a lot these days, but I like to think that the dedicated readership to my weekly Unibet column has now tipped the scales, from “thank you Father, that was a lovely mass. Was it your wife who baked the biscuits?”, to “yes, we were all planted on this Earth by Aliens. Go ask Tom Cruise...”

It causes me no little distress then, that after kicking my soapbox over in a huff last week and exhaling fiercely about England's constant hard-on for talismanic football figures, that my message about the methods being more important than the man hasn't reached North London.

Even as I write this, the likes of Holloway Road and Kentish Town are scattered with the limp, lifeless bodies of Arsenal fans who've thrown themselves out of the nearest 1st floor window at the news that one of their players might not be there next season.

I'm sure they'll be alright though. They all managed to survive similarly dramatic plunges in the wake of Cesc Fabregas' exit. You remember Cesc, right? He was the 15 year old lightweight central midfielder who simply wasn't imposing enough on the game to ever take over from Patrick Vieira. Then there was Thierry Henry's emotional departure. Arsenal's all time leading goalscorer who started life as an otherwise unheard of left winger who'd been plucked from Serie A mediocrity and could categorically not fill the goalscoring chasm Ian Wright had left.

Oh, and Tony Adams! Mr Arsenal himself whose exit heralded the end of Arsenal's entire ability to defend... some three years before the “The Invincibles” became the only team to ever get through a Premier League campaign unblemished.

Worst of all though, there was that time Dennis Bergkamp loaded up his car and made the long drive back to Amsterdam. How bleak things must have seemed in his wake with only some anonymous, temperamental, injury-prone, 8 week old Dutch lad left to fill his role as magician-in-chief. 

Much the same way that Feyenoord survived when Arsenal snatched their prized possession all those years ago, and that Montpellier, Cardiff, FC Koln, Southampton, Borussia Dortmund, Paris St Germain, Auxerre, Ajax, Zenit, and Bordeaux didn't suddenly lose bowel control and die in a messy heap on the nice rug when their key players started looking for houses in the NW1 area, life at The Emirates will go on.

Forgive me for harking back to my opening point but all that Robin Van Persie was, was the focal point in a very effective system. He scored 18 trillion goals (roughly) last season, primarily because the rest of the team were set out to enable him to do so. He's a tremendous player, but tremendous players can only excel like that when the 10 lads around them are in tune.

By the time Arsenal kick off the 2012/2013 season (JESUS H. BEARDSLEY WE'RE PRACTICALLY THE JETSONS NOW!) their star-man may well be gone, but with him will be the system that was so dependent upon him. Left behind will still be a team of supremely talented international players, the most successful manager in their history, with Champions League football to play, in a stadium so new they're still finding the tags on things. 

Players come and go, systems chop and change, fortunes peak and trough, that's just football. However the arrival or departure of one player seldom leads to a massive change in any of that, as David Villa and Carles Puyol will attest to this summer. Bookies may well slash the odds on Arsenal retaining their top 4 status as this saga unfolds, but if anything, this could be the shake up that ends their 7 year trophy drought. 

Meanwhile, somewhere up the A1, Darlington 1883 will be starting their first season in the Northern League Division One. So trust me on this one Arsenal fans, it could be a lot, lot worse.