Securing the signature of Robin Van Persie proves a number of things to the footballing world:
Firstly, it sends a message to the rest of the country that there is still sense in football.
Money isn’t the be all and end all to every player – and this world class forward, in his own words, made his choice because “Manchester United breathes football”.
Yes, I accept he may be on a good wage at Old Trafford, but ask any Arsenal fan and they will tell you, he was on a good screw at the Emirates. Ask any gloating City fan and they will happily tell you in no uncertain terms, whatever United could offer in wages, City could, and would, easily double it. Sense and passion over finance with Mr Van Persie.
Secondly, this transfer, I believe, will force the end of a Premier League giant. Arsenal have been a major threat to United since the Premier League began in 92. A club with rich history, tradition and a solid foundation bringing players through from youth level, season after season. However, over the past eight years, too many superstars have walked through the exit door.
Every great team goes through a transition period, every great team loses a superstar – but this Arsenal side have lost their very best player, to a United side which was already head and shoulders above them in terms of quality. Unfortunately for Arsenal, a club I respect, I believe this is the end. I only hope for their sake they do not become the new Liverpool.
Finally, the importance of this transfer is, fundamentally, the player. Robin Van Persie is a world class striker. A game changer. A leader. A winner. Granted, there is the niggle of injury problems, but what more can a man do than keep himself fit for a whole season to prove his worth?
Moving away from Van Persie, and on to the section of United fans who were unhappy with this deal – the fundamental problem is apparent: “We do not need a striker, we need a central midfielder.”
Why hasn’t Sir Alex invested in a world class central midfielder?
The simple answer is, there isn’t a world class central midfielder out there who is available.
Many of you will challenge this answer by rolling off the names of 10-15 central midfielders playing in the Premier League, in Europe, and around the world. But, thinking seriously and logically for a moment, ask yourself, would they actually improve our squad?
Obviously there are players like Ozil, Schweinsteiger, Xavi, Iniesta and Yaya Toure who are all outstanding footballers – but not one of them would join our club. There is more chance of Gary Neville coming out of retirement to play for Liverpool, than any of these players leaving their clubs. So on to a more realistic list of targets.
This week we have seen a talented young Englishman in Jack Rodwell join the noisy neighbours. Have we missed out? I do not think so. £15m for a player who couldn’t force his way into the Everton side most weeks.
The Newcastle pair of Cabaye and Tiote. Industrious, strong, creative. Would you pick either player ahead of Cleverley or Anderson? If this is even a debate, then the answer to signing them is a firm no. I do not want big bucks spent on a player who ‘might’ get in the side. It is either a signing in which they are the first name on the team sheet, or it is a young player who we can develop.
Luka Modric – an exceptional talent who rarely loses the ball – but £35m? Is he that much better at keeping the ball than Carrick or Scholes? He certainly doesn’t possess the hard work of a fit Darren Fletcher. Where exactly would Modric fit in and who would lose their place to him?
More names in the mix are Sahin, M’Vila, Moutinho and Lucas Moura. We have all played Football Manager, we have all won the league with Huddersfield. It isn’t real. Just because a player turns out great in the game, and had a good season last year in France or Portugal, doesn’t mean it will work in real life.
We have seen some very poor central players try and fail over the years at Old Trafford. Liam Miller, Kleberson, Djemba Djemba, Darron Gibson – need I go on?
I do not for one moment argue that, sooner or later, Scholes and Giggs will need replacing. I fully understand Fletcher may not return as the tenacious player he once was.
I accept Kagawa and Powell may take time to get used to the rigours of the Premier League.
What I cannot and will not accept is that the Robin Van Persie transfer money should have been spent on a ‘world class’ central midfielder.
The vision of Scholes, the skill of Ronaldo, the leadership qualities of Roy Keane, the fight of Bryan Robson… this player simply does not exist.
All comments welcome.