Free of injury and two goals in the Emirates Cup Final. The season augurs well for Robin Van Persie. Talent never in doubt, but questions marks have hung over the Dutchman. Did he have the mentality to match his gifts? The self-belief to be a leader? The departure of Henry to Barcelona provides the perfect opportunity for Van Persie to take centre stage.
Thierry Henry was a positive infleunce on Arsenal’s development. He set the tone for their expression. The cultural leader. The orchestrator of Wenger’s vision. The one the team looked to in turning moments. Now he’s gone. And in it, an opportunity reveals itself.
An opportunity for Robin Van Persie to emerge from out of Henry’s shadow. An influence as potent as Henry’s is positive, for sure. But it can also have a negative effect. Negative in the way the team can look to, expect almost, their cultural leader to step forward and save the day, when the day needs saving. Sub-consciously causing others to take on less authoritative roles. Less self-leadership, more acquiesing to the natural authority. Henry. Sunday’s headline maker.
Now Van Persie can be the headline maker. The one they talk about. Look to. Expect of. He is needed. And can thrive on that need. It reignites a sense of purpose. Gives meaning to his work. Allows him to feel important. Recognised. Understood not understudy.
Some players need that. Need that spotlight. Not to share with others. But to bathe in the acclaim. The adulation. The one charged with making a difference. It makes his role clear. It gives permission for all his talent to be focused into one aim. One intention.
The stage has been cleared now for Van Persie. Can he command it?