Written by Berg on Tuesday, 03 July 2012 09:41
This is a response piece to @hahostolze’s article on why “Patrick Vieira is no longer an Arsenal legend”. A piece which I disagree entirely and this article is to explain why. This is not an attack on the author, just my view on the matter. I’m sure we can all be civilised about all this.
What constitutes being a legend at a football club? His achievement while at the specific football club - honours/titles/trophies won should play a big percentage. His general attitude when on the pitch - whether he wears the badge with pride and represent the club in the best possible manner. Or is it something only reserved for one club man? In which case, neither Dennis Bergkamp nor Thierry Henry should ever be classed as legends.
I think we would all agree, it’s based during the player’s time at the said football club.
What can we say about the 9 seasons that Vieira spent at Arsenal Football Club? It was a trophy laden 9 seasons that in fact ended with his last ever kick for us securing what was to be our last major trophy (Emirates Cup is still a trophy, mind you). Let’s not forget the way he started for us. I wasn’t there and neither had I the opportunity to see anything apart from the goals from his first ever match for us. Premier League broadcast just wasn’t that … urm…broad, back then. But everyone agreed that we had a new midfield general in town from that moment onwards.
League titles ensued coupled with a few FA Cup triumphs in between as well. We did not have much success on the continental front but that is more of a collective team failure than one attribute solely to Vieira. Who can forget our Invincible season. A team that he was a big part of and was captain to. Suffice to say, in the achievement column, Vieira ticks all the boxes with regards to being a legend.
Would you still be able to classify one individual as a club legend should the period he feature in coincide with a period where the team is of poor quality and won nothing? Of course you can. It depends on what this players brings to the team in terms of quality and skill. It depends on whether despite the paucity of quality in and around him, the player still gives his 100% in every single game and leaves every game without these thoughts - “I could have done more there”.
This is where I strengthened my believe that Vieira is and should remain as a club legend. Over the last few seasons especially, I’m sure there has been at least a few games where you thought - “Where’s the desire lads?” or “They didn’t turn up today” or “They don’t look like they fancy it today”. Those are some of the accusations being thrown at the Arsenal teams for the last few seasons. I, myself included as one of those with such thoughts. Yet, I struggle to think of Vieira in that way (perhaps time has eroded those memories out of me).
Every match, Vieira gives his 100%. He leaves everything behind on the field. There is no regret afterwards that his didn’t put his shift in. Isn’t that what we want from every single player that dons The Arsenal kit? Put in 100% effort and whatever comes, comes. If the team is good enough, we win. If the team is not good enough, we don’t. But there should never be an occasion when less effort is given. Vieira always had the club’s best interest on the pitch. If there was a yellow card needed to be taken, he would take it. If his team mate is being bullied, he’s there to support. As the common saying goes, he always puts his body on the line for us.
Then we come to his departure from Arsenal. I have his autobiography and I’m paraphrasing because the physical book isn’t with me now. It should go something along these lines.
“I went on holidays after the season ended. As I was ready to return when I receive a call from Arsenal that they have accepted an offer from Juventus. They told me - it is your decision now. I couldn’t believe that after all I did, the club didn’t put up a stronger fight to keep me”.
These days we are pelted with constant rumours of who’s going in and out of the club. We get to hear/read insider information about the reason why a transfer is going to happen. However, we constantly remind ourselves that sometimes these stories are leaked out by the respective agents just to get an advantage in terms of contract discussion of transfer negotiations. Yet, it would be easy just to consider those season in/season out flirting with Real Madrid as what Vieira was inching to do. Can that not be agent talk as well? To get better contract at Arsenal?
I’m saying that those stories are definitely not true. Neither can I confirm that it is. Unless you’re privy to the content of the discussion they had back then, it would be hard to ascertain how much of it was the truth. The same goes for the appointment of Vieira post his playing career. Like the rest of you, it hurts to see him in a blazer with the wrong club crest. There was suggestion that we offered him a post which was not to his liking. Vieira was more interested in the developmental part of football and had every right to reject an offer which doesn’t match his wishes. It wouldn’t be right to suggest that he should take up Arsenal’s offer any way because its Arsenal. In any case, I’m just postulating on what went on based on the information that I’ve read online.
We know Vieira’s dedication to his work. We’ve all seen his commitment to the cause whenever he’s on the pitch. Do you think that this is just a face that he puts on as a player or is that his character. Because that would suggest how seriously he takes up his current role at Manchester City. He only wants to do his job and do it well. If that includes trying to buy Arsenal players over to make City a better team, is there any logical reason for him not to do so? Mind you, I’m not asking you not to be angry if that happens again though, because I too will get rather piss if that happens. But that’s a different discussion altogether.
All in all, Vieira’s dedication to his job may ultimately proved to be his downfall in terms of where he stands with Arsenal fans. There’s no right or wrong in this, just the perception that you as a fan, wants to take on. To me, Patrick Vieira will always be an Arsenal legend.
Guest Post by Berg (@aeroberg)
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