Of Loyalty (with apologies to Francis Bacon)
Loyalty is the state or quality of being faithful to one’s commitments or obligations. It can comprise faithful adherence to one’s club or cause notwithstanding circumstances.
With all due respect to the numerous, plausible opinions out there in both virtual reality and the real world, the time has come to address the hysteria arising from Arsenal’s sale of Robin Van Persie to Manchester United.
Being the ridiculously biased gooner that I am, I have been stung into action by a combination of my grandson’s hyperbolic doom and gloom reaction to the aforesaid sale and Amy Lawrence’s article ‘Reality bites again at Arsenal but this is not bad business’ in ‘The Guardian’ on the 16th August. I was also incensed to read of Roberto Mancini’s inane assertion that Jack Rodwell was joining a club that was a ‘winning club’. Sorry, did I miss something about the relative status of Everton and Manchester City based on their successes since their respective inception?
My intention is to make RVP RIP once and for all.
Like Bacon and unlike many football fans and writers, ‘hypotheses non fingo’ (I don’t make hypotheses); I merely intend to use inductive reasoning when investigating the ‘form nature’ or cause of a phenomenon such as the above sale, by including the method of agreement, method of difference, and Mill’s method of concomitant variation. In doing so, I hope to remove the Idols of the Mind from fellow gooners so that they may rest assured of the sanctity of their club when faced with a hostile media.
As with all football supporters, I draw comfort from the old adage that ‘Whereas players come and go, true supporters are permanent’. Sometimes the former are already or mutate into the latter but rarely to the same degree of passion and loyalty, especially if there is money involved.
Take for example, the ‘words of wisdom’ uttered by paid pundits such as Alan Smith or Paul Merson. Such pundits would claim that their comments are objective and balanced with due regard to their roles as independent experts. We, of course, as Arsenal fans know that the supposed neutrality of the media is a myth, with bias, prejudice and downright dishonesty underpinning many so called rational news reports.
Amy Lawrence writes that, ‘This episode (RVP sale) provides yet more evidence for those who slam Arsenal as a selling club’. The presupposition here is that there are ‘selling clubs’ – a derogatory term implied by ‘slam’ – and there are ipso facto conversely ‘buying clubs’ who are to be praised for buying from the selling clubs. Furthermore, according to Lawrence, the action of the ‘selling’ club is acceptable providing it’s not ‘bad business’. Let’s attempt some Baconian inductive reasoning here:
Method of Agreement and Difference
Arsenal sells many players for a range of prices across a range of different circumstances and for a range of different reasons. For example, the sale of RVP cannot be considered in the same light as that of Cesc Fabregas because the context of the sale is different. Both players presumably wanted to win ‘things’ but the latter wanted to return to his homeland and his first club. Some Arsenal players are also sold for their own professional benefit so that they can play regular first team football; Gavin Hoyte, for example. Other players are loaned out to other clubs for varying degrees of time according to the needs of the players, the clubs being loaned to, and, of course, Arsenal itself.
Other clubs, such as Manchester United and Chelsea, also sell players but, if we may, generalise, these players are often not of the same quality as Arsenal’s. Sometimes the sale is precipitated by the age of the player and the prospect of a lucrative final contract such as that recently taken up by Drogba. A club such as Manchester City has relatively few opportunities to sell unwanted players because of the extortionate wages often being paid to these players frequently signed in haste.
It is here, that we begin to stumble when it comes to inductive reasoning. Clearly Arsenal is a ‘selling’ club but it is also a ‘buying’ club. We do not need to provide examples of this; just glance at any history of Arsenal and you will see this ‘buying’ has been going on for many years. The amount of money paid out for players varies according to supply/demand, era, and ability but such buying has always been there. Arsenal buys many players, a significant number of whom are of international status.
Chelsea and Manchester United are also ‘buying’ clubs but because of their less successful youth development policies are more dependent on the quality of player they buy. Chelsea has spent a fortune in recent years trying to establish some degree of football success. Manchester City is the dominant force in the market place at this moment in time and is totally reliant on purchasing players from other clubs.
Arsenal, along with the likes of Crewe Alexander and currently Southampton, is one of the relatively few clubs accredited with effective development of players through its own youth system. The proof is in the pudding not only with the number of such players in the first team squad but the incredible number of ex-Arsenal players to be found at or on loan to other clubs at all levels within the leagues. It is also worth noting at the recent European Championships, it would have been possible to field virtually a whole team of ex and current Arsenal players.
Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City all attempt to bring through their ‘own’ players but apart from the occasional few at Chelsea and the ‘Giggs’ youth team of Man U, there has been little relative success.
Manchester City’s contribution to player development throughout the leagues is virtually non-existent. The club does nothing for football generically and to use a metaphor, is parasitical, relying totally on the skill and expertise of clubs such as Arsenal. It is worth noting here, that it is only worth buying a player if one is buying quality, and it is a tribute to Arsenal, not an insult, that other clubs, including parasite clubs, want to buy its players. Ask yourself which players Arsenal have enquired about when it comes to Manchester City, United and Chelsea?
There has been much furious debate about Arsenal’s ostensible reluctance to ‘go into debt’ by paying out, for example, exorbitant wages and transfer fees. We read regularly that Arsenal is a model of financial excellence and a club dedicated to living within its means. Presumably, it was this parsimonious approach with which RVP disagreed so vehemently; an approach which he could cite as his reason for leaving, even though, like his colleagues he was extremely well paid.
Chelsea and Manchester City have enormous wealth and have spent obscene sums on gaining their recent respective successes. As parasite clubs, they have managed to buy and blend outside players to achieve this. Their financial management has been appalling but there again given their wealth this doesn’t appear to be of relevance. Quite clearly, the playing field is more than a bit uneven between these two parasite clubs and the rest of the football body they feed on and live off.
Obviously, RVP is quite happy with poor financial management. He is willing to turn a blind eye to the asset stripping of Manchester United and the huge debts being accrued; debts which his transfer fee and salary will no doubt add to significantly over the duration of his contract.
Arsenal’s trophy successes since the club’s inception have been excellent in spite of the current ‘drought’ (apparently only pertaining to Arsenal) emphasised by a biased press. Numerous league championships, FA cups etc. are testimony to this. Add to this the incomparable unbroken run in top flight football since 1919; 16 year’s successive qualification for the Champions League; and the remarkable ‘Invincibles’ season and you have a tradition which many a supporter would welcome.
In joining Manchester United RVP has joined a club with an unprecedented record of football success and tradition, although the club has not enjoyed the sustained attainment of top class football since 1922. It may be that RVP will enjoy some success with his new club if he remains injury free or indeed fits in and plays as well as he did last year. It should be remembered, though that strikers rely on team mates for many of their goal scoring opportunities. Time will tell.
This concentration on ‘winning things’ from players such as RVP and Cliché, Nasri et al is all rather perplexing. Each speaks about Arsenal’s lack of trophies as though each were not part of the team not winning trophies? It seems that for these three players losing to Birmingham City in the recent Carling Cup Final had nothing to do with them and that somehow it was the club’s fault.
Method of Concomitant Variation.
Arsenal is a well-managed, well-supported, and ‘selling’ and ‘buying’ and ‘home-developing’ very successful football club with a rich heritage. It has a very good stadium and is renowned for looking after its players. A recent common feature of the past few years has been the ‘defection’ of some players to ‘rival’ parasitical clubs, two of which, are very wealthy with relatively little history of success over the last 100 years. It is clear that two causal factors have underpinned these transfers:
- The perceived opportunity to win trophies
- The opportunity to earn ‘silly’ money
Football Player Loyalty is the state or quality of being faithful to one’s opportunities or self-interest. It can comprise faithful adherence to the betterment of one’s financial interests and transfer of allegiance.