Last year, my flatmates – all Arsenal fans, kept going on about this Robin Van Persie bloke. I kept telling them that Wayne Rooney would slap in him in the face in terms of quality of football player. They were adamant that he was stupendously good and every week, I watched Match of the Day and I would see him score amazing goals. Meh, I would say to myself, he’s alright but come on, stop with this madness. He’s an OK player. He’s on a good run. He’s always injured.
Then I found out he was nearing the end of his contract and was unlikely to agree a new deal with Arsenal.
Alarm bells. He can’t go to City. This guy is amazing. He’s absolutely incredible. We can’t let him follow Nasri out of the Emirates to the Etihad. The thought of even the possibility of him coming to United was so far away from my mind. I would lament with my Gunner friends. As a group, we would send thoughts to him and his agent to sign the contract extension at Arsenal. But as time wore on, he did nothing. There were stories of Juventus and Real Madrid wanting him and these were welcome destinations in my mind.
Bob Cass, friend of Ferguson, said that he was going to United. But he also said that we were going to sign Modric, Tiote, Lucas Moura and Sneijder.
Then, on August 15th 2012, Manchester United Football Club announce that they have agreed a deal with Arsenal for Robin van Persie.
But he’ll fail the medical, obviously.
He signs. Big presser. A little boy inside of him told him to come to us. To this day I can’t believe that he plays for us. I mean, it’s ridiculous. It’s ridiculous that I think it’s ridiculous. We’re the biggest club in the world. We make more money than everyone else. We’ve got a magnificent history but we are also the only team in England that competes for the title every single season. But we don’t sign big players, certainly not the best player in the league, as was confirmed by the PFA and Football Writers awards he won the season before. You’d have to go back to 1995 to find a signing even slightly comparable, when luring Andrew Cole away from Newcastle, after he won the PFA Young Player of the Year the season before he joined us and was on 9 goals in 18 games.
Van Persie scored against Fulham. Awesome. Beautiful bit of technique that only he can do. Goal against Southampton, terrible Panenka penalty, two goals in the last four minutes to win us the game. A hat-trick. Oh Robin van Persie is born.
He then scored our winning goal against Liverpool ten minutes from time. Against Chelsea, a Van Persie shot found it’s way in to the back of the goal with less than five minutes on the clock, via David Luiz, before he put us 2-0 up after twelve minutes. The following week he faced his former club and scored after 2 minutes 35 seconds. As if his start to life at United could get any better, he then goes and scores a 92nd minute winner against City, the club he turned down to join us, to put us six points clear at the top.
On December 15th 2012, oh Robin Van Persie scores against Sunderland and sets up a goal for his new life partner, Wayne Rooney. After the game quotes come out on Twitter. “I finally found home and peace. I hope the Man United fans can forgive me for coming late.” Now, these quotes were clearly bullshit but Arsenal fans around the world went batshit crazy. “TRAITOR”, they yelled. “JUDAS!” 20 hours later, a video emerged of ORVP singing a rendition of what my flatmates refer to as, “Boring, Boring – Man United”.
I love him.
But does he actually exist? I cast my mind back to the joke that one of my aforementioned flatmates made last year. “Van Persie’s character on FIFA 12 looks more like Van Persie than Van Persie!” This alarms me.
Then I remember what poet and football writer, Musa Okwonga said while we watched United vs Arsenal last month. “Van Persie is the only player in the world who plays like his character on FIFA.”
It suddenly dawned on me. He was a fake. A phony. An illusion. Robin van Persie didn’t exist. I should have known all along. I recall the doctored images of him in a United shirt before the deal had been announced. They looked too good to be true. They were too good to be true. I then went over to my games console, put in FIFA 13 and selected United. 4-4-2. Big Dave, Rafa, Smalling, Rio, Evra, Tony V, Clevz, Carrick, Young, Rooney, The Fake.
ALAS! The way his character on FIFA controls the ball with the precision dribbling is exactly like the “real” man. The way he back-heeled it into the path of the on running Tom Cleverly was identical to the way he did against Sunderland on Saturday. I even recreated the close control and right foot curler against City that his the bar, came out to Young and was disallowed. When you hold the two back triggers on FIFA with Van Persie in possession, IT IS EXACTLY THE SAME AS WHEN HE DOES IT IN “REAL LIFE”! The way he runs, passes and shoots is uncanny. Even his uppercut celebration is the one that he does on the computer game.
I realise I may sound crazy and I’m opening myself up to ridicule but I challenge you to look at a compilation of our Dutchman on YouTube, do it on FIFA and not spot something fishy.
Over the last day, I have grown to accept this truth. I only hope that you can too. It will only lead to a cleaner and less heartbreaking escape when the EA Servers go down during 2013’s Champion’s League Final just before he scores a winning bicycle kick against Barcelona…
The RoM 2018-19 Season Preview is available for just £6. It includes an EXCLUSIVE interview with Juan Mata, a Q&A with the country's top journalists, articles by brilliant United writers, and so much more. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.