Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Some More Thoughts on RVP

If Robin Van Persie leaves for Manchester City or, worse, Manchester United, it is not he who should draw the ire of the Arsenal fans.

It is the Arsenal board and the Arsenal manager.

If Van Persie is being disloyal to the fans and the club, then there is a strong argument that they are being disloyal too.

In fact, more so than Van Persie, one could say that the only thing they are loyal to is the money.

Arsenal can still take charge of this mess in one simple, but effective way. They can take a stand and say they will not do business with other Premier League clubs.

They can wait for an acceptable offer from Juventus, and let the captain go to Turin.

Letting Van Persie go to Manchester further compromises Arsenal's competitiveness in their domestic league.

It hammers home the point that Arsenal cannot compete at the top of the Premiership table.

The realistic and the disillusioned already know this to be true, but losing Van Persie to Manchester United would be particularly galling evidence of it.

At least if Arsenal sell to City, they have the reasonable excuse that they are essentially being cheated by a club that doesn't play by the rules, a club that never truly earned its place at the summit of English football.

But if United win out, it underlines Van Persie's ambition not to play for the most money, but to play for the biggest club. A club that Wenger's Arsenal were once able to compete with, but now can only view from below.

Something of a counterargument to the above would point to Wenger's obvious and repeated loyalty to his players, whether they remain at Arsenal or are on the way out. He has never been one to stand in the way of an individual's desires and maybe we are seeing it again with Van Persie.

Maybe Wenger wants the Dutchman to go, wherever the Dutchman wants to go.

And the only important thing for Arsenal football club is to make the greatest possible profit from the deal.

We are talking about a sport that has become defined by money and the power it confers; in the face of all this, Arsene Wenger has held onto his ideals better than most.

Whatever his public pronouncements, he knows that Arsenal cannot win the Premiership in the coming season.

But maybe every time he milks a deal for all that it's worth, maybe every time that happens we are actually building towards something.

Maybe not the ultimate decline of the club- maybe, in fact, a day when the team can compete again.


Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Rises: Why So Serious?

Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise ends with a good film, not a great film, the weakest of the trilogy.

Nolan's films in general are not known for their humour, and it works both for and against them.

He made Batman great again by banishing the camp frolics of Joel Schumacher's films. Restoring straight faces and a sense of darkness.

But The Dark Knight Rises lurches to the opposite extreme. It is relentlessly, exhaustingly portentous. There is barely any respite from the constant aural and visual reminders that THIS IS AN IMPORTANT AND SERIOUS FILM. 

Over two hours and forty minutes, the weight is a little much. 

The Dark Knight struck a much better balance, mainly because of Heath Ledger's Joker, who provided laughs and charisma.

In The Dark Knight Rises, we have Bane, a formidable foe for the Batman no doubt, but not a particularly interesting or charismatic character in comparison to the previous film's villain.

It remains a very good film, a worthy end to a fantastic trilogy. But I get the feeling that Christopher Nolan would be an even better director if he could practice a little restraint. His recent films are unashamedly BIG and that is part of the attraction, but in The Dark Knight Rises, the bigness crosses the line into bloat.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Meet the new Blog, same as the old Blog

Groundhog Summer.

 For Fabregas last year, read Van Persie this.

 I think the indignant response from many Arsenal fans to Van Persie's statement is unwarranted.

 Football is now, undeniably, equal parts sport and business. How else can we explain UEFA's insistence on changing the European Championships from a competitive, 16-team tournament to an unwieldy, 24-team one? Money matters, and what goes for UEFA, and the big clubs, goes for the best players too.

 Football generates obscene amounts of cash. The great players are at the root of that. They generate the excitement and the interest. Robin Van Persie is one of the best around at the moment and he has a right, at his age, to prioritise making as much money as possible. Sadly, as we all know, that can't happen at Arsenal.

 But, what's sadder still is that he hasn't a hope of achieving his sporting objectives at Arsenal either.

 People have reacted angrily to his reference to a meeting with Wenger and Gazidis, in which he was not convinced of the club's ability to compete in the coming years.

 It may have been arrogant of the player to question his own manager's project, when that project has arguably been responsible for his development as a player. It is undeniable that Arsene Wenger has made Arsenal what they are today, a big club with a big stadium and the potential to grow into a footballing superpower.

 But while austerity measures are still in place at Arsenal, can anyone realistically argue that it is the best place for Robin Van Persie- soon to turn 29? It may be that, when Arsenal's stadium-related debts are paid, and as the club finds new ways to raise money for the purchase of players, Arsene Wenger will be able to bring in players who are at Van Persie's level. Clearly, during that meeting, the Dutchman saw that that time has not yet arrived. By the time it does, his best days will be behind him.

 To the people who say that Arsenal stood by him during multiple, injury-ravaged seasons, and that he owes the club the same loyalty, I ask: why? The club stood by Van Persie because they knew his colossal talent. If they decided to cut their losses, there would have been plenty of other big clubs willing to gamble on that colossal talent. He would not have somehow ended up in the footballing wilderness.

 What Van Persie has shown is not selfishness, but rational self-interest. It is clearly beneficial for him to move on. He had a great season personally, but the club had another poor one. Without him, who knows how poor it would have been. Why would he waste another season, when a shot at the big prizes, and greater financial rewards, await elsewhere?

 He is a professional, not a fan. I don't doubt his affection for the football club but he has to do what is best for him. Speaking of fans, I wonder how many would act differently if they were in his position. It is easy to take the moral high ground from a distance, but football is Van Persie's job, and if anyone is offered a better job, with a better chance of success, and better money to boot, what do they do?

 I say good luck to him.