The bond between player and fan is an intriguing one.
We all have our favourites for varying reasons.
They scored a history-making goal. A titanic man of the match performance in a crucial game. An attitude that meant everything was left on the pitch after every game.
Fan favourites come in all shapes and sizes, but when it comes to those we despise? The turncoats, those that have desecrated the badge?
All of us share the hate.
There have been a few that we look at with venom, especially in recent years. Emanuel Adebayor cemented his villain status with his pitch-long run to gloat in front of Arsenal fans when he scored against us in a City shirt, the pain made even worse by the recent wound caused by the Togo striker abandoning us in our hour of need to cash in at the City revolution.
Samir Nasri isn’t looked at with quite so much vitriol, his move to City viewed by some as a player who wanted Arsenal to progress but refused to, so the French player moved to a club that could give him the glory he craved.
Robin Van Persie was shown untold patience and faith during his time at Arsenal, through consistent injuries, shows of petulance on the pitch, and growing pains. we enjoyed the Dutchman in his prime, but not for long. He maintains that the Arsenal board were not showing the same ambition that he had, and United came calling.
The rest is history.
Ashley Cole was on the back of the greatest ever season that the club had ever had. The world was his oyster, and we recognised that Cole had a gleaming future, so we opened negotiations on a new contract.
We didn’t figure on Cashley being greedy and having his head turned by nouveau-rich Chelsea. The difference of #5k a week saw Cole enjoy his best years at Stamford Bridge, and win all there is to win with the Blues.
Cole hurt badly. This was an Academy graduate, he was one of our own. To see him go to a close rival smarted. To make matters worse, we got William Gallas as part of the deal. The French defender was a great player, but his mentality was sorely lacking and one of the few opportunities at a title tilt in 07/08 was partially ruined by the deconstruction of Gallas’ state of mind on the pitch.
Do these enemies of The Arsenal stand a chance of forgiveness? Will we ever look at these players with fondness? Or are they destined to be part of a rogues gallery of sorts, but far more nefarious:?
At the time of writing, the sands of time haven’t done much to dampen the way we view these players are looked at. How long will it take, or what would it take, for us to forget their past misdemeanours?
If Ashley Cole were to come out and declare he is still a Gooner, and give another reason other than his bare-faced greed for his departure? This will never happen of course, but would we erase his errors?
Like it or not, we have ex-players that crossed a certain line, and it certainly appears that once that line is crossed, the way back is then blocked from view. Outcast, all bridges burned – they are forever a nemesis.
Part and parcel of being a supporter is having a target for our spleens to vent at. Normally it’s a referee, a spurs player, Chelsea, but a former player who has wronged us?
They are forever reserved a spot in our mind, specifically for those that have cardinally sinned in the face of the Cannon. They form part of our history, after all, there can’t be the force without the dark side.