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July 2021

Of Loyalty (with apologies to Francis Bacon). RVP RIP

Of Loyalty (with apologies to Francis Bacon)

Paul Fowler

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.

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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.

Player Development

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?

Financial Management

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.

Football Success

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.

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38 comments to Of Loyalty (with apologies to Francis Bacon). RVP RIP

  • Goona Gal

    @ Paul – This is a great article, well written & well argued. I hope you write again.

  • Big Lebowski

    Good piece

  • Excellent analysis. This is what real unbiased journalism should look like. Hope it gets you grandsons spirits up.

  • A R Smith

    Interesting analysis, but we still haven’t won anything for several years; Cliche and Nasri et. al. have and possibly RVP this season. What is it that the great Wenger has lost?

  • Goona Gal

    RVP, far from being the well rounded ‘everyman’ who can relate to fans on every level, has far more in common with bankers who helped create the financial meltdown.

  • Dan

    Too pretentious. Better suited to an essay, this style, than an article on football. Orwell would not be impressed. Still, valid points, obfuscated by your appeals to intellectual indulgence

  • excellent piece of work here. Man City have won just two trophies in the last forty years yet they are deemed more successful than Arsenal…something is terribly wrong with the English media

  • DR

    Nice post. I don’t think it’s going to persuade anyone who doesn’t understand the state of things in football in general, or Arsenal in particular, but it’s interesting to read nonetheless.

    I haven’t read the Guardian article in question but the title would seem to infer it’s looking at the positives for us, rather than the usual media spin, surely that’s a good thing?

  • Good piece Paul,talk about commitment and faithfulness at Van$er$ies conference he talked about scholes and gigs commitment at oldtoilet, i could not believe his words.
    Write us more Paul.

  • WalterBroeckx

    AR Smith,
    the question is : what is it that the others have found… the answer: more money from outside.The football world has gone mad in the last decade.

    And if something has been lost as you ask: it is football that has lost its soul.

  • A wonderful post. I only wish I could write as well as this. Totally true and a pleasure to read.

  • Iohannes Soute

    This is easily the most accurate and well-considered piece about the RvP saga I’ve read in the last few days, as well as addressing the media-fuelled doom-laden feeding-frenzy that erupts around the perceived weakness of being seen as a so-called ‘selling’ club.

    What if in ten years time both Manchester clubs are in equivalent positions to those currently being endured by Rangers or Portsmouth as a result of assest-stripping, unsustainable business models and/or other forms of financial mismanagement?

    Only one very minor gripe – it’s spelt Crewe Alexandra 😉

  • Goona Gal

    Buying and developing players over a number of years is risky, expensive and takes a lot of hard work. This year and last year will go down as the period where some senior players ‘unionised’ and tried to take the club down, with their unsustainable wage demands. The worst of it is that those the club carried, nurtured and developed the most are the most culpable, where as players like Rosicky, Vermaelen and Kos re-signed very quickly. The staggering self interest of some players to want to jepodise the exsistance of the club and future opportunities of their junior colleagues was quite enlightening.

    Money at all costs, money with no conscience, everyone has their price right? Greed is good, the end justifies the means, you can rationalise decisions later – apologise even. Making money is everything. But I have to ask, at what point do people stop subcribing to mantra’s that celebrate and advocate these principles?

    How much is too much? Or maybe it is foolish to expect reciprocity for the risk, time and money invested. In the current scenario, player’s have too much power and they are using it. The current trend of players going on strike, going AWOL, making threats and behaving unprofessionally is fast becoming the norm. I am not tired of football, but I am growing increasingly tired of footballers reflecting and being examples of the worst in society.

  • Goona Gal

    @ Dan, 11:20am – Just because this article might not be of the Dr Seuss quality you are used to, there is no need to cut and paste your Joey Barton crap here.

  • bob

    RVP is a stripped-asset of AFC. He, in turn, is a conscious enabler of being stripped. He has joined the asset-stripping project of Manure (and Barfa and matchmaker Darren Dein). In fact, he’s become a witting advocate of the zillionaire take-over model of football. He walks that walk and talks that talk. He is loyal to that logic and mouths and kneels to its supremacy. Right now, in football, no other value has mustered enough strength and support to withstand such an asset-stripping project. It proceeds by any means necessary (legal and illegal) and without actual restraint (by FFP, or other loyalties). (One shudders to remember those reassuring words about loyalty uttered by his family only a few short weeks ago.)

    All this is camouflaged in and by the media. His action comes down to a “listening to my inner little boy” mantra, by signing with a club where “I can achieve greatness.” This child-like, boyish innocence is actually the icy “ethic” of those who know the price of everything and the value of nothing.

    And to practice it, as he has at least recently, is to do this: (1) develop a Captain My Captain role which pretends to be a builder of bridges to a shared future with the manager and fans of club A (namely AFC); (2) while – at the same time – be building a bridge to a different club B (namely MU) which has the actual effect of destroying the prospects of club A. Behavior that postures at love and a desire to create, whilst acting to destroy the prospects of those who love back is clinically diagnosable as psychopathic. It is the new normal.

    The Advisor in this process assures the Advisee that it is the only way to go. To do otherwise is to be a sucker and a loser. The Advisor helps make this process possible, this behavior desirable, and the outcome profitable. This end – the only end that matters – justifies the means, sayeth the Advisor. And the Advisee, once bowing to this highest Truth; and will destroy all other loyalties that stand in its path.

    Tutored well, the Advisee calls it the voice of his “inner child” while the ever-eager, compliant, and like-minded media is already there to make this ga-ga its Headline. It is called “Achieving Greatness”. Such greatness is the a yellow brick in the road to a two-team league. It is the vision that propels the Rednose XX. And RVP, the Brand, has become its most loyal Apostle.

  • bob

    p.s. One candidate to serenade His Return to the Emirates:
    “…he lies when he wants”

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Very nice and timely ,Paul ,real fine piece .Thanks .I like to think that in time some of the parasitic clubs as you call will become “hoarder clubs ” and said infestation will overwhelm the host .
    They will not be able to kick out the bloated (and satiated ) pest!It won’t have happen say you naysayers ? He is here and his name is Ade-bye-yore !
    Thanks again Paul, for burying RVP (or his new moniker,RIP ),
    and not praising him !
    @Goona Gal at 12:39 – Giggle ,giggle .Laugh , laugh .Well swatted !

  • Brickfields Gunners

    Oops ,sorry … you call them will

  • Alfred E Neuman

    Across the pond, I am pleased to log in to UA and smell the bacon. Contrary to A R Smith, I enjoyed this piece and hope to see more cleverness from the writer in the future. Although I agree loyalty is a rare commodity, it was encouraging to see a headline on today’s BBC website saying Jay Leno accepted a salary cut to avoid cutting staff.

    I enjoy the posts on this website for the variety and scope of topics. It is refreshing in contrast to those who seem so certain about the proper path. After all, “You can be on the right track and still get hit by a train!”

  • Matt Clarke

    An excellent article – thanks Paul. You have, hereby, put most football journalists to shame.

    I love the development and labelling of the term Parasitic Club – I will always think of them as that from now on. I always thought ManU were lousy – now I have substantive evidence. 🙂

  • Goona Gal

    The stench of rotting flesh at Arsenal needs to be cleared out so that we can get some breaths of fresh air around the gaff. Theo needs to sign up or be sold ASAP, he is not so integral to the team that it would be better to keep him and let him walk on a free. As Theo has very vocal detractors, I do try to be very measured in my criticism of him, but I have to say his very average performance yesterday is far too common, even if he had a slight injury.

    People are telling me ‘but Theo is going to sign’, I say fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice shame on me’. This feels a bit ‘Nasri-esque’, who had a great poker face, he insisted that he was signing up, just could’nt find a suitable pen – until he was off. I shake my head in despair at the thought of giving Walcott £110k+ a week to prove that we are not a selling club. That is utter madness and I would prefer he went sooner rather than later.

    Even if he does sign on, the fact that it took him so long to do it, is pretty insulting actually.

  • Goona Gal

    ***Off topic, why isn’t Ryo starting, let alone not on the bench for Wigan against the Chavs? Is he injured?

  • bjtgooner


    Good point about the “Advisor”. The one in question, Dein the Lesser, seems very adept at worming his way into a player’s mind and confidence.

    What we don’t know – what was the inherent level of greed in van Pursey’s character and how much of this was encouraged/developed by the Lesser Spotted Parasite.


    Good article.

  • dan

    Sitting in vietnam, whats this about alex song off to barca?
    Any clarification on the matter would be appreciated.

  • Preetam

    Forget RVP……no use flogging a dead horse….lets support Arsene & the team …. our team needs our support more than any other time….Arsene knows what to do….he is the manager for the past 16 years for Arsenal he know what has to be done.

  • shaft

    A well thought argument and as a biased gooner, a good read.

    The fact is that every year we lose our best players and get decent prospects. We had a big shortlist of players to get rid of this window but they’re all still here and we lost our 2 best performers of last season.

    We got it all wrong again. Understandably footballer loyalty has vanished over the last few years because of the money but to expect a player to perform well week in week out and seeing the club move backwards every summer is enough to test any player’s loyalty. Even some(so called) fans aren’t that loyal and they are not influenced directly by money.

  • Woolwich Peripatetic

    I wonder if there comes a point where the non-stop bullshit just gets too much for some players.
    I liken the situation to Spain, Barca, so long the unfavoured club, play the cruellest trick on the overlords in/at Madrid – to form the nucleus of the national side is to have the governing body in an un-winnable situation.
    I wonder if in the days of recent success, some measure of that success came from having a fair few England internationals in the first eleven? Seaman, Adams, Keown, Dixon, Parlour, even Platt, all of them could be considered useful to the England squad.
    Basically, Jenkinson and Gibbs need to make themselves a part of Hodgson’s plans, the same goes for Obi-Wan whilst he’s on-loan at Bolton.

  • Stuart

    Paul, this is a great article, I hope you have more to say.

    I found it very thought provoking in that it generates as many questions as it answers.

    Just wondering, if Everton cracked into the top 4 this season, would they be deemed to lack ambition because they haven’t got into debt to fund ludicrous player transfers?

  • bjtgooner


    Why don’t you transfer to another club, we’ll let you go on a free.

  • Damien Luu

    @Paul: One of the greatest piece I have ever read! Thank you.

    @Bob: “One candidate to serenade His Return to the Emirates:
    ‘…he lies when he wants'” – Awesome, Bob, awesome 🙂

    @dan: Sitting in the same place 😉 Read the, the terms of Song’s transfer have been agreed, he will be Cesc new team-mate in a week or so. And AW will bring in someone to replace him I believe. Just wait to see who he is.

  • dan

    Damien Luu


    Ho chi minh city too busy, will be off to nha trang soon. Song will be missed, but then again why keep a player when his heart is no longer in it. Frimpong could be the man or Couqulin, both will grow into this role.

  • Gf60

    Loyalty? Ha. As says, “It’s all cold cash and cold hearts.”

  • Domhuaille MacMathghamhna

    A cogent, if convoluted article…..but does raise some seriously intriguing questions, such as:

    1)What do the unholy trinity of David Dein, Dein the Lesser and Usmanov have up their collective sleeves, having successfully managed to get RVP and Song out of AFC, thus bating the AAA and anti-Wenger losers once again?

    2)How does Wenger seem to successfully anticipate these losses and bring in more than adequate replacements, time and time again?

    3)Is the Board’s and AW’s vaunted ¨frugality¨ truly being parsimonious or is it,in fact, part of a larger vision that includes carefully calculated risk-taking, positive financial management and a 5-7 year Club growth strategy that is now bearing fruit?

    4)Will the big spenders ever be able to develop an adequate youth development program, before their financial house of cards comes crashing down around their ears? It has taken AFC more than 12 years to reach a stage where upward pressure from their youth academy is actually influencing their player selection for the first team.

    5)Finally and most crucially, will the PGMOL be ¨advised¨ to ensure that AFC never achieve their potential greatness, which would serve to show aspiring and current top 4 teams the common sense inherent in the Arsenal management model?

    The whiners and moaners crying in their spilt milk about RVP and Sagna ¨loss¨ are best encouraged to actually ruminate on the above issues before spewing their vile rancour on the net.

  • Gf60

    DM. Hope you’re not right about Sagna going as well. Sure he’s lost for the moment but unlike Song…..:o

  • JJ Riley

    After Arsenal immitation today of a boring team without irony – sunday drone football, you might use your essay skills in some other domain of scientific religosity. Now you got me at it spotter!

  • Golden Porker

    Only one thing missing from your rant.

    Will the BBC loan you a Tardis to take you back to the time when you United and Liverpool had the EPL stitched up? You never imagined what you created (by Skulduggery) would bite you on the Arse.

    Keep whining.

  • Melon Man

    ” Loyalty is a tool of the establishment to suppress the rights of the working classes”

    Discuss with reference to footballing examples please Paul.

  • Fair Play

    The hypocrisy of Arsenal fans is sickening. They weren’t complaining it wasn’t fair when they, Utd, Liverpool & Chelsea had the Top 4 and CL revenue rolling in every year with little competition. They also forget (or don’t even know) that Danny Fiszman injected £50m cash into a mid-table Arsenal in 1994 to fund a huge spending spree that bought them success. That money was equivalent in real-terms to the money Abramovich and Sheikh Mansour have put into their clubs. Were you not a “parasitic club” then? Or how about when Henry Norris somehow engineered your dubious “promotion” to Division 1 in 1919 at the expense of at least 3 clubs who should have taken that place?

    How much money have people like David Dein, Nina Bracewell Smith, the late Danny Fiszman & others made from their Arsenal shares? Hundreds of millions, of which not one penny has gone into the club.

    Just because Arsenal have been relatively successful does not entitle them to win things ad infinitum. Preston were once a huge club as well in the past. And Manchester City won their first FA Cup 26 years before Arsenal won theirs. Things change in football and Arsenal have failed to invest properly to meet that change even when they’ve had the ability to do so. It’s their fault if they miss out on the top 4, no one else’s.