Arsenal fans tend to have incredibly long memories regarding players that somehow manage to insult them and their club. The easiest way to incur their wrath is to have the temerity to want to leave but it really does depend on the circumstances.
Arsenal fans don’t object to someone wanting to end their career in their homeland. They don’t appear to mind that after limited success, they choose to move on in an effort to achieve their goals, providing they always gave their heart and soul to the club.
A football career is short at the highest level and ambition is just as important as big pay cheques and the average fan has no justifiable objections.
However, there have been many swayed by the prospect of big money and when Manchester City were bought outright by Sheikh Mansour in 2008, a number of Arsenal stars decided in was far better to play in a cold and wet Manchester than a soggy and chilly North London, including Kolo Toure, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Bacary Sagna.
Yet, those transfers never really wrangled the Arsenal fans, even at a time when Arsenal were selling everyone off in an effort to pay the bills, but there are probably three transfers that supporters can never forgive or forget.
Ashley Cole was an Arsenal fan, who as a youngster always wanted to play for the club and from his debut in 1999, it was clear to everyone that the left back was going to be a regular England international.
Many thought that he would also go on to be Arsenal captain and take the club on a journey full of trophies, especially after winning the Premier League twice and being a vital part of the Invincible’s side 2003/04.
In 2006, Arsenal began negotiations with Cole over a contract extension but things didn’t go well. The final straw came when Cole heard on his car radio that Arsenal were only going to offer him £55,000 a week. He said at the time:
” I nearly swerved off the road”
Adding at the time:
“He (David Dein) is taking the piss !”
Negotiations ended abruptly and ‘Cashley’ Cole as became known signed for Arsenal’s London rivals Chelsea. The fans never forgave him and he was showered at matches with fake £20 notes that depicted him as the Queen.
Everything he had achieved was forgotten, he had become hated and still is.
Arsene Wenger’s liking for technically gifted players took him to Barcelona, where he signed forward Alexis Sanchez for £31.7m in 2014. The Chilean added panache and unpredictability to the Arsenal lineup with the star forming a fruitful partnership with World Cup winning playmaker, Mesut Ozil.
Alexis Sanchez wowed the crowds and transported many back to the days of Henry and Bergkamp in terms of skill but over time, the players demands outweighed his talent. Special training regimes, extra rest periods and longer vacations were becoming a problem, but Arsenal wanted to retain the player who was now seen as the jewel in Wenger’s crown.
Sanchez had no intention of signing an extension with the gunners and his agent started having conversations with representatives of Manchester City. In the meantime, the first team players relationship with Sanchez was deteriorating and eventually the forward left for Manchester United after giving his word to Pep Guardiola.
Arsenal fans had embraced him but it appeared that he sold the club short by sacrificing it to meet his own ends. In the end, after just four seasons he engineered a move for money. He could have been a legend but in the end, he went from hero to zero and failed at Manchester United.
ROBIN VAN PERSIE
Robin Van Persie had an injury prone existence at Arsenal. He had the talent, the predatory instinct and the power but as the likes of Bergkamp and Henry disappeared, Van Persie was finding it difficult to step out from their shadows.
When he did and in his final year at Arsenal, injury free, the goals were plenty (37) but he was also in negotiations with the club about staying.
The player had once said that he couldn’t imagine playing for another premiership side but once Manchester United came along in 2012, he seemed more than comfortable wearing their colours. He hasn’t exactly helped himself since retiring after claiming on BT Sport that Arsenal never offered him another contract, which would be stupidity of the highest level, even by Arsenal’s standards.
After one really good season ‘Van Purse strings’ wanted out, another follower of the dirty dollar and who’s only loyalty was to himself.
Apart from Cole, the other two had mixed fortunes, Van Persie won the league in his first year but slowly went off the boil and as for Sanchez, he never went above tepid.
Perhaps it’s not right for Arsenal fans to show their displeasure by throwing fake notes at players, booing or chanting their name in a derogatory way, because the age of loyalty has affectively gone and that includes clubs and players.
Yet, some players are unwilling to give but are happy to take. You can’t fool the paying fans who turn up every week and all the excuses in the world won’t make up for a lack of effort on the pitch or thinking that the individual is more important than the club.
Who is Arsenal’s biggest traitor ? Well none of them showed any respect for the club and in the Ashley Cole’s case, they made him a superstar by investing considerable time and money in him from an early age. In a way, he opened the door for the modern footballer to engineer a move for more money and now its a common place in the game.