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August 2021

The Robin Double: what it means for Wenger, the player and the club


While it would take a journalist of such utterly blinkered proportions to ignore the sensational achievements of Robin van Persie this season, there is always an opportunity in every great story for journalists to cast doubt.

So it is with our Double Player of the Year man.  He’s won the awards, but immediately some hacks are looking for excuses to throw in the negative.  Is this it?  Is he off?  Is Mr Wenger so stubborn that he won’t buy anyone, or give Robin a pay rise?

Indeed the negativity started long before the awards – as Robin started knocking the goals in this season the press and the AAA were out there saying that this was a one man team.  “What happens if he stops scoring?” was the cry.

Amidst all this, a little of the magnitude of both Robin’s and Mr Wenger’s achievements are overshadowed.

Robin van Persie moved into the Feyenoord first team when he was 17 and became Dutch Football Association’s Best Young Talent at the end of the 2001-02 season.  But he also got a bit of a negative reputation and so the Feyenoord manager, Bert van Marwijk, sold him to us for £3m.

In the past year Mr Wenger has made two unexpected moves – moves which at the time were highly criticised by the AAA and their journalist pals – making Robin captain, and making him the main striker rather than the Bergkamp II.  In an interview Robin explained how the move to centre forward happened:

“I actually never played there before – I did it a couple of times at youth level, but it was nothing really special. The boss didn’t buy someone else [when Emmanuel Adebayor left] because he was convinced I could do it. I wasn’t so sure. Then, in pre-season, we had a game against Inter Milan. I scored a good goal, played well and he told me after the game, ‘You see? It will work’.

“Sometimes, you just question yourself, if you are good enough at it. Those answers came. I have been for a while now convinced I actually can play as a main striker.

“Let’s see where it ends. Let’s see how far I can push myself, see where my maximum lies.”

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So Robin has two awards and has equalled the Arsenal record for goals in a year, and could also get the Golden Boot for goals in a season.

Of him, Mr Wenger said:

“Robin has a very healthy life, very focused on football – he takes care of everything. He is like Thierry Henry in that. When you look at great players, they are on the move, everybody else stands and watches the ball. That is the difference. It’s not the way you finish, it is the way you move that gets you into the position. Robin is world class.”

Joe Mercer was the first Arsenal player to win the award, in 1949-50.  After that we had Frank McLintock and Dennis Bergkamp, before the golden era

  • 2001-2 Robert Pires
  • 2002-3 Thierry Henry (also Players’ Player of the Year)
  • 2003-4 Theirry Henry (also Players’ Player of the Year)
  • 2005-6 Theirry Henry

I am reminded today of the Robert Pires award – you may recall that Pires was injured and could only hobble onto the pitch to get his award.   He walked up very slowly, with all the other players bowing down to him.  Pires had had an average first season, but sprung into life in the second, changing his style of play totally in order to give that amazing Pires / Henry axis, and became an utterly, utterly brilliant player.

Robin has followed this route, also changing his style of play  – and now we see the reward.

But back to the press: already there are comments that buying Podolski will not be enough and we need more players.  Already the AAA are saying we won’t get these players because they won’t want to come to a club that is “treading water” as one correspondent put it.

If anything I think this will make a little difference in a positive way, but not much.  Footballers thinking of moving talk to each other, they know about the clubs, the managers, the stadia, the fans.

But it does add one more mark of excellence to Mr Wenger, who was quite probably the only man to believe that Robin could be a centre forward.

As for Robin, of course we don’t have any extra insight into what he thinks and what he will do about his contract.  But let’s hope that he will have noted what happens to people who move clubs to seek trophies, and let’s hope he remembers that it was Mr Wenger who saw what he could do.

Just one little thing to add: lots of newspapers are talking about this being a landslide victory.  If you have a source of the voting numbers could you post it in?

13 comments to The Robin Double: what it means for Wenger, the player and the club

  • Richard B

    If we are ‘treading water’ what on earth is the situation with much of our competition? At least treading water implies staying afloat!

  • WalterBroeckx

    How many times Wenger has to do a Petit, a Henry, a Pires, a Van Persie to prove what an incredible insight he has when it comes to players?

    I hope Robin asks Hleb, Cesc, and others long lost in memory goners. There is no guarantee at all to win anything.
    Just look at Cesc with a little bit of luck he will have won nothing in his first season at Barcelona. The things they won were cups based on the performances of the pre-Cesc season. The world cup for teams (2 games), the super cup (one game) Barcelona was there because of last season.
    This season if Bilbao (I think) wins against them in the copa del Rey they win nothing. Sorry Cesc, can’t really say I feel sorry for you.

  • nicky

    While I congratulate Van P. on his award, the whole business of the selection is, IMO, demeaning, by the voting of Scholes in 3rd position. A man who automatically associates a sneaky foul each time he tackles. How can that be. 🙄

  • legolas still trust Wenger

    Wenger is a legend at the club and it is sooo sad still finding stupid people criticizing him .i am sure next year we will challenge for trophies

  • Dutchie

    I don’t think they have published the voting numbers, but according to Steve Bates Robin had about 100 votes more then Wayne Rooney (listen from 3:40):

    And yes, Wengers work is underrated. He produces football. While in modern football many will say only the results will count, Wenger contributes to the sport by giving the world players like Henry and Van Persie. By giving them Wengerball, by introducing wingbacks in a 4-man defense, by introducing the false number 9 and now he is trying to implement the libero.

    Unfortunatly his work gets disturbed all the time because he has to sell players (to pay off stadium debt). Give him the squad and money Real Madrid has, and he will win the treble in three consecutive years… maybe 4.

  • Damien Luu

    As Thierry himself has said, most of people – and even most gooners – will only realize how great AW was after he leaves. And of course the media will make sure of that. His position, his situation, makes him even greater, because he always has to overcome all kinds of pressure from every direction.

    I knew from decades ago that he is zillion, zillion times smarter than Rednose XX – the so-called Lord of Ure or whatever.

  • Richard B

    @Dutchie – just as a point of information, Arsenal do not have to sell players to pay for stadium debt. The stadium generates a great deal more than the mortgage costs the Club and. in fact, generates a profit over and above those costs.
    Players leave because they are bribed to by the offer of wages way beyond their commercial worth – hence the move to Financial Fair Play.

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    RVP and AW, a match made in Football heaven. Talking about matches made in Hell, here’s an article about old twitchy and the Spuds that says it all:

  • SouthernGunner

    Delighted for Robin. Well and truely deserved. It’s nice seeing an Arsenal player do so well and appreciating the faith the manager has had in him for so long, and crediting his team mates for his season.

  • finsbury

    Exceedingly brief reflections upon the AAA:

    Do you all think that there is a realistic* number of Villa fans who can’t stand the manager that masquerades in their dug out? Or perhaps they might need some help? An article or two in a national newspaper about some black bin bags to help with the story of their discontent? That kind of thing?

    * Please excuse the expression I don’t think some would consider me to be a ‘realist’.

  • Brickfields Gunners

    While TH14 was usually consistent and influential during his stay at Arsenal , Pires performances in 2001-02 ,was out of this world ,and as mentioned the entire squad were on their knees and bowing when he limped up to get his medal .It had brought a lump to my throat then .
    RVP ‘s performances since the begining of last year could be said to be compareable to Pires’. He deserves all the praises and awards that is/will be getting.

  • Re Villa fans – yes I think there is a real movement against the manager now. He is after all heading for 3 relegations in one city in four years. Birmingham twice and now Villa.

    That must be a record if it happens.

  • The Blaze

    The Mac must be an under-cover West Brom-fan.