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As it turns out, not even the man with the most inside knowledge, the most in-the-know of the ITKers, can explain what exactly happened with the Robin van Persie transfer. In a special column for Yahoo! Eurosport, Arsenal's manager Arsene Wenger has said that "Even I do not understand, and I am deep at the heart of the decisions".
Sometimes players just need to move. Clearly, this column in a way is meant to explain that the whole thing was out of Wenger's hands, and many will read it as a sort of auto-apologia, but it is important to remember that there are at least three sides involved in every transfer, and in this one, there may have been like, five (Arsenal, United, the agent, RvP, and Arsenal's board, maybe). From what Wenger is saying, though, his preferences were miniscule when compared to RvP's, and the mystery therein.
Now he's gone, don't ask the fans to understand what is not understandable. Even I do not understand, and I am deep at the heart of the decisions. You have to deal with it. That's life. We are here to help people to express their talents. A coach must have a positive influence on their players' lives.
He adds that the loss of RvP will hurt, but it's down to the current crop of players to find a way to win (and so far, they've looked up to the task):
I would have preferred Van Persie to sign for a club in a foreign country, in order to avoid playing against him several times per season, but it's a fine challenge for us to prove we can exist after such a move, to show we can score goals, play well and survive everything.
It is reassuring, somehow, to hear these words from Wenger. They don't explain everything, and they don't explain why he (or the board, or whoever) was willing to let RvP go to an archrival, but it sounds like there was no way RvP was going to stay. The question of setting it up as a "challenge" to face him a few times a year seems weird to me--strategically, doesn't one strive to minimize the depth of the challenges one faces, or am I just a wimp?--but it is what it is. Most of the mental opacity rests with RvP on this one, and that Wenger himself had no idea what was going through RvP's head, or why he might've done the things he did.
And let's face it: six goals on Saturday helped a lot. This team can score in bunches, it's been shown, and looks more solid defensively this year. We'll know what's what with tough matches coming up.