Despite Ferguson’s public flirtation with Robin Van Persie, I, for one, never truly believed it would happen. It just seemed too far-fetched. This is probably the sort of thing happening in FM all the time, but this is real life, stern and earnest, not FM. Either way, now that he’s here, what to do with him?
I don’t mean the flippant questions of where he’ll play, who he’ll replace and all that tosh. That is best left to the bitter scouse pundits. What I’m trying to make certain of are my own feelings towards the renegade Dutchman. I can remember at least three such putative betrayals in my career as a Man Utd fan. Carlos Tevez lusted after the Sheikh’s oily gold a few seasons ago. I was furious at the Argentine international. I had previously been quite devoted to the little Argie troll and this fact made the transfer rankle all the more. Michael Owen joined Man Utd after peddling his disgraceful brochure like some grubby East End costermonger. It was rather pathetic and I frankly pitied the ex-Liverpool man. Pity and pathos were the chief emotions where Michael Owen was concerned. I wanted him, in a vague, impersonal manner, to do well. When Owen Hargreaves joined City, I was rather disillusioned, but I could hardly blame the injury-prone midfielder. He could have, of course, joined a neutral team like Sao Paulo or Wisla Krakow or Mohun Bagan. But, no, he had to toddle off to the Dark side of Manchester. Distasteful.
In summary, when one of the aforementioned Judii (focus-foci, locus-loci, Judas-Judii?) left United, they were the villains. Whenever a Judas joined United, he was a good guy. Not a ground-breaking observation by any stretch of imagination, but it does put things into perspective. The bottom-line is that fans are irrational and biased and that the Empire of Reason must rule in our little heads even when it comes to partisan issues like football.
The not-so-surprising conclusion: it is hardly fair to call a player a money-grabbing-you-know-what amongst other, ruder things, when you yourself would probably do the same thing. If ABC Ltd. offers you a purse of gold to quit your current position and infest their corner cubicle instead, you’d rub your hands in glee and jump at the opportunity. Ah, but your job is quite unemotional, unlike a footballer’s. Footballers owe fans a lot. This is the root of the money-grabbing-she-who-must-not-be-named argument. But, reflect. A footballer is what he is through his own hard work and talent. Fans do make footballer rich, they do not make footballers talented. But if Guzaninho leaves Barcelona to join City (why not, in these mad, turbulent times?), he is trading one set of fans for another. The fans that made him rich have changed. He owes nothing to Barcelona fans now.
How’s that for a bloody argument? Of course, if Rooney had joined Arsenal, I’d have had a different argument ready before you (it’s called rationalisation; ask any psychologist worth his salt). All things said and done I hope Van Persie scores a hat trick at the Emirates, scores seventy-five goals for the season and lives happily ever after.