This piece of news came out yesterday. About Andrey Arshavin (haven’t mentioned this name in a long time) mooting the possibility of retiring at the end of the season. My first thought was one of anger and disappointment. How can someone be so easy-going about ending one’s career.
At 32, Arshavin is hardly at an age where retirement is an option to consider. It’s not like he’s besieged with repetitive or continuous injuries. When you compared that with what Abou Diaby is suffering, Arshavin’s attitude definitely comes off second best.
It’s amazing how his career has turned out though. A late bloomer, he burst onto the stage when he led Zenit St Petersburg to the UEFA Cup in the City of Manchester Stadium. He followed that up with mesmerising performances in the European Championship in 2008. All which led to Arsene Wenger taking the chance on him and bringing him to Arsenal.
To be fair, the little Russian did proved to be an inspired signing, early on. Mercurial and definitely more passionate about the game then, he helped us secured Champions League qualification and can normally be counted on to provide that extra bit of magic. No one could forget his contribution in that 4-4 draw at Anfield where he displayed energy, desire and class.
Where did that player go? The increasing age is not the answer to that question.
Many will point to the fact that we’re misused him. That he wasn’t played in his natural attacking position, just behind the main striker. Remember what I said above? How we marvelled at his contribution in the 6 months after he signed for us? I’m sure you can remember as well as I do that during that period, he also played wide in the attacking triumvirate.
Personally, I feel that it’s a case of weak mental strength (Wengerism) and poor attitude from Arshavin himself that has caused him his place in the squad. No one ever goes through his entire career without having a drop in form. Arshavin went through one and never recovered from it. Gervinho, for all his faults, is probably better in this respect. Arshavin took being dropped from the line-up harder than most other players. No one will ever dispute that Arshavin is more talented than Gervinho but Wenger probably saw it in training, the disinterested figure of Arshavin.
There’s no sympathy from me towards Arshavin. For close to 2 seasons, he has accepted sitting on the bench and take his salary. There has been no complaints whatsoever from him about the lack of playing time. While it’s never good to hear disgruntled employees going to the press about their playing time, it would have been refreshing in his case.
This is a player who gives up at the first sign of discomfort. A player who’s reaction to be dropped and no longer being the main man in his team, very appalling. Yes, we’ve moved on some very good players and it’s disheartening to see. Yet, it’s more disappointing to see a player who doesn’t try his hardest when he knows full well that he has the talent to back it up.
It’s a sad end to the career (if the retirement story turns out to be that) of one of the most exciting players in European football. Sad in the sense that I’m sad that he doesn’t cherish the gift that he has and fully exploit it. In that sense, I’m also glad that he will no longer be with us come next season. We surely do not need that type of “role model” in our squad.