I don't know why, but I really, really, really thought you were different.
I thought you were sensible, grounded, rational—albeit with a slightly impulsive, and endearing, touch of "crazy." But most of all, I thought you were a consummate team man. An Arsenal man. And a leader.
I am still trying to come to terms with how absurdly wrong I've been.
See, come to think of it, I've got no real problem with your desire not to extend your contract. At 29, you aren't going to give Arsenal—or anyone else, for that matter—more than a year or two of world class service.
And then again, there's your injury record. 211 starts in eight seasons. An average of 18 league starts per season. Pretty ordinary, wouldn't you say? What's the guarantee that after 18 months of non-stop football, Mr. Sick-note won't be back?
You didn't seem too worried about the club's "direction" during those first six and a half seasons at Arsenal, did you—you know, the time when you scored a grand total of 73 goals, almost 20 percent of which were in the FA and Carling cups?
But now, with a year and a half of great—make that "outstanding"—performances behind you, after your longest run without a major injury, you consider yourself an authority on how a truly great sporting institution should be run?
No ordinary institution, may I remind you. An institution which made you who you are, an institution that has been around from well before the time your great-grandfather existed, and one that will stand proud and glorious while you become a mere bookmark on Wikipedia.
So yes, I've got no major problem with the fact that you'd like not to stay. But I do have a massive problem with that pathetic statement you issued yesterday. Yes, that "Update For The Fans," as you so patronizingly called it.
Honestly, we, the REAL Arsenal fans, would have been happier without it. Terrible idea. Do pass that on to your classless vermin of an agent—yes, that guy who holds the "Kees" to your impending failure.
You started your masterpiece by saying:
I have kept quiet all this time out of respect and loyalty for the club and as agreed with Mr. Gazidis and Mr. Wenger, but since there is so much speculation in the media, I think it is fair for you guys to know what’s really going on at the moment.
Seriously? Media speculation outweighed your commitment to a man who you owe everything to? A man who stood by you through six and a half seasons of injury and underachievement. Fleet Street should declare a holiday. Forget a new club—first and foremost, you need a new PR advisor.
Moving on, do help me understand, Robin, what exactly did you—or your ghost-writer—have in mind when you took on the Arsenal hierarchy with the following drivel:
I personally have had a great season, but my goal has been to win trophies with the team and to bring the club back to its glory days. Out of my huge respect for Mr. Wenger, the players and the fans I don’t want to go into any details, but unfortunately in this meeting it has again become clear to me that we in many aspects disagree on the way Arsenal FC should move forward.
Is this step one of your master plan to "bring the club back to its glory days?" by effectively saying that the manager and CEO don't know how to run Arsenal FC? When, dear Robin, did you attain mastery over the running of a football club? Ah yes, must have been all that spare time during the many, many months you spent on the treatment table.
Like I said, it's understandable—somewhat—that you'd like to go. But by issuing this statement, you have wrongly taken matters into your own hands, let it be known to the football world that things have broken down and that Arsenal have to sell you. You have done the club, its hierarchy, and most of all, its fans, a massive disservice.
You have also, in one fell swoop, wiped away years of credibility and placed yourself in the pantheon of footballing mercenaries.
And then, there's your ending. That has to be the biggest PR disaster of all time.
As soon as Mr. Gazidis is back from his 2-week holiday in America further meetings will follow and I will update you if and when there are more developments.
What is this, kindergarten? "Psst, listen up Gooners, old Ivan the Terrible is playing the fiddle on some sunny beach in Florida while Arsenal is burning! Isn't that bad?"
That has to be the most pathetic, cowardly and ill-advised swipe I have ever seen. Only the sorry half-wit that is Piers Morgan took up the bait. That says something, doesn't it? Sadly for you, this will be your undoing.
What of the future, Robin? It's 250k per week at Manchester City, by all accounts, isn't it? Yes, you will probably win a few trophies in the two or three years you may have there. But you will NEVER be the main man. Vincent Kompany, Joe Hart, Yaya Toure, David Silva, Serio Aguero and even Carlos Tevez are ahead of you in the queue.
Did someone say Juventus? You will never supplant Gigi Buffon and Andrea Pirlo and be the top player there. And let us not even speak of Real Madrid and Barcelona. Look at your poor buddy, Cesc. Yes, he did win a couple of silly cups, but he's nothing more than a water-carrier, playing out of position, and getting a game for club and country due to David Villa's injury.
Look at your friends who have gone before you, Robin. Patrick Vieira—trophies at Juventus and Inter Milan, but mainly remembered for his Arsenal days. Thierry Henry—Champions League winner at Barcelona, but his name is barely mentioned at the Camp Nou. He will always be remembered as an Arsenal great.
And finally, dear Robin, remember the man we thought you'd emulate—the legend that is Dennis Bergkamp. After yesterday, you're not even fit to lace his shoes.
Football decisions may be governed by money, Robin, but it remains an emotion-driven business. True glory is not attained by raising your wage from £140k a week to £250k. It is attained by your impact on a club and those who support it.
Since money, as per your own statement, is "not my priority at all," I'd like to see you join the other Manchester club—one that I don't particularly adore, but one that has more class and tradition than their noisy neighbours ever will.
You say, Robin, that you "love the club and the fans, no matter what happens."
Well, I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but the club and the fans aren't saying the same about you. Try convincing an average season ticket holder that your revised contract of £140k per week, new and early signings of the caliber of Lukas Podolski and Olivier Giroud, and a massive increase in focus on commercial revenue are all not signs of a positive shift.
Goodbye, Robin. I hope Arsenal make every possible penny through your departure. I hope they stop being nice guys, as they were when Cesc left, and play real, proper, hard-ball.
And finally, when you retire, I hope you look back on your time at this great club and enjoy the company of Adebayor, Nasri, Hleb, Flamini and others of your ilk in the Arsenal fans' Rogues' Gallery.
And please, do continue to love us, even when that happens.
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