Robin van Persie

Why Do People Hate Robin van Persie?

Robin van Persie is regarded as one of the most talented strikers of his generation. The Dutchman has played for Arsenal, Manchester United and Fenerbahce while also representing the Netherlands national team. However, despite his world-class ability, van Persie has managed to anger fans over the years.

Acrimonious Arsenal Exit

Van Persie is remembered fondly by many Arsenal fans for his goalscoring exploits between 2004-2012. In his final season in North London, he scored 30 Premier League goals to be crowned the division’s top scorer as the Gunners finished third.

However, Arsenal failed to win any silverware and at the end of the campaign, van Persie announced he would not be extending his contract as he wanted to win trophies. He was subsequently sold to rivals Manchester United for £24 million.

Many Arsenal supporters felt betrayed and claimed the Dutchman pushed for a transfer simply for money. Having joined from Feyenoord for just £2.75 million in 2004, there was a sense that van Persie did not show loyalty to the club that made him a star.

Perceived Lack of Respect Towards Arsene Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger nurtured van Persie from a talented but injury-prone forward into a world-class striker. However, the manner of how the split occurred upset many as neither player or club handled it well.

In an interview, Wenger accused van Persie of making up his mind to leave long before he announced it. He claimed the lack of communication showed a lack of respect. Meanwhile, van Persie later stated he regrets how his Arsenal exit was handled.

The whole saga left a sour taste for Arsenal fans who viewed it as their club’s best player turning his back on their greatest ever manager.

Joining Manchester United

By choosing to join one of Arsenal’s biggest rivals, Manchester United, van Persie further angered Gunners supporters. Making the switch to a direct top-four rival is always going to agitate fans, as Arsenal had to see their star player in the red of United.

In his first season at Old Trafford, van Persie fired United to the Premier League title – a trophy he desired but never won at Arsenal. This only rubbed more salt into the wounds. Lifting the trophy and playing so well for a bitter rival made the transfer more difficult to take for Arsenal fans.

Infamous Goal Celebration vs Arsenal

On his return to Emirates Stadium in April 2013, van Persie poked the bear by celebrating after scoring United’s equaliser. Having been booed and jeered by the home support, van Persie slid on his knees directly in front of the Arsenal fans as the United bench celebrated wildly.

This show of elation infuriated Gunners supporters who viewed it as a clear lack of respect. Van Persie inevitably became public enemy number one amongst Arsenal fans which has ultimately led to him being disliked so intensely even six years after leaving the club.

Perception He Chased Money Over Trophies

Although van Persie cited his desire to win trophies as the reason for leaving Arsenal, many believe money was his main motivation and this has damaged his reputation. He more than doubled his salary by joining Manchester United which led accusations of greediness.

Despite understanding his hunger for major honours after eight trophyless years at Arsenal, some felt the Dutchman threw away all he had with the Gunners for bigger pay checks. Along with a feeling he turned his back on the club that made him a star, this has fuelled the hatred many Arsenal fans still hold.

Injuries & Lack of Commitment at Later Clubs

After two prolific seasons at Manchester United, van Persie suffered recurring injuries leading him being sold to Fenerbahce in 2015. Yet his fitness troubles continued in Turkey before he had an underwhelming spell back in his homeland with Feyenoord.

The sharp decline in the latter part of his career compared to his Arsenal peak led some to argue van Persie only fully committed himself when playing for the Gunners. His effeteness and bit-part roles have seen his stock fall in recent seasons.

Difficult Playing Style

While a supremely skilled player, some argue van Persie had a style that made it difficult for teammates. His tendency to play on the shoulder of the last defender and make runs in behind suited his individual game but some fellow forwards preferred playing with link-up play.

For the Netherlands national team, this led to tensions arising with Klaas-Jan Huntelaar who felt van Persie was too focused on personal goals rather than helping the team. Similarly, many Dutch fans grew frustrated with their star striker as the national side failed to achieve expected success.

Perceived Arrogance

Through interviews and even goal celebrations, some people also point towards moments that highlight van Persie’s apparent arrogance. His mannerisms, outspokenness and “infamous” quote stating his transformation after leaving Arsenal paint of picture of the Dutchman’s strong self-confidence.

While self-belief is admirable, his choice of words coupled with switching between rival clubs has seen van Persie labelled as arrogant by some. Actions like directly celebrating in front of Arsenal fans also fall into this category for many.

Lack of Major International Honours

For all his individual accomplishments, van Persie failed to achieve success with the supremely talented Netherlands national side throughout his career. The Dutch reached the 2010 World Cup final where he infamously received a yellow card that ruled him out the showpiece in South Africa.

Four years later, Louis van Gaal’s side were among the World Cup favorites in Brazil 2014 but van Persie’s three group stage goals were not enough as the Dutch bowed out on penalties to Argentina in the semi-finals. He then announced his international retirement in 2015 citing issues with coach Danny Blind.

While many star players fail to match club form for country, van Persie as Holland’s captain and talisman striker bore much of the blame from disappointed Dutch fans.

Seen as Injury Prone

For all his brilliance, van Persie encountered terrible luck with injuries, especially at Arsenal. Despite making over 200 appearances for the Gunners, he never managed more than 33 Premier League starts in single campaign.

Various muscle strains, knee injuries and ankle ligament damage led to lengthy spells in the treatment room. By the time he joined Manchester United, van Persie still had question marks over his ability to stay fit as he approached his 30s.

While adored at Arsenal, more frustration came from seeing their star striker so often unavailable and failing to play 40+ games a season during his peak. His fitness record left many supporters feeling he could have achieved even greater feats.

Personality Clashes & Temperament Issues

Van Persie has also shown questionable temperament and was involved in several ugly incidents in his early Arsenal days. He allegedly threw a punch at Alex McLeish while playing for the Netherlands against Scotland, while he was pictured pushing referee Paul Alcock during the Gunners’ infamous match with Manchester United where three players were sent off in 2003.

Meanwhile in 2011, a match winning goal by van Persie was overshadowed by a squabble with Arsenal teammate Emmanuel Eboue. Arguments and fiery moments have perhaps shaded the perception of van Persie’s character amongst some fans and pundits.

Why Do Fans Dislike Such a Talented Player?

When considering why the Dutchman is so unpopular in some quarters, it seems a combination of perceived greed, arrogance and disloyalty fuel much of the hatred rather than anything to do with ability. Van Persie’s exit from Arsenal contained so much animosity that Gunners fans instantly held a grudge, despite his world-class contributions.

Even small matters like goal celebrations now trigger anger because of the actions that preceded them. Van Persie brought joy for many years at Arsenal but his choice to join Manchester United permanently damaged his relationship with their fanbase.

Could Van Persie Have Handled Things Differently?

In hindsight, the Dutchman himself admits he could have conducted himself better regarding the Arsenal exit. However, while rivals fans dislike him for joining their direct competitors, ambition for trophies was not unreasonable after eight dry years at the Emirates.

Perhaps greater transparency and communication would have made his decision more palatable. Explaining his choice directly to Wenger rather than sudden announcements could have lessened the animosity. Also, considering other options abroad may have avoided the direct Premier League rival switch aspect too.

Nevertheless, van Persie saw the strong Manchester United side of 2013 as his best chance for glory. Having already turned 29, his window was closing and the lure of linking up with Sir Alex Ferguson proved decisive.

Did He Really Only Care About Money?

This is debatable. Van Persie almost tripled his salary by joining Manchester United and while he had trophy ambitions too, undoubtedly a hundred thousand pounds per week made a difference. Recouping value from his peak years became part of the equation.

However, money alone seems unlikely to be the main motive. The switch provided a genuine chance to achieve the coveted medals his talent warranted. Yet from the outside, it still appeared van Persie chased fame and finances over loyalty towards Wenger and Arsenal.

Could Injuries & Decline Be Prevented?

Hindsight makes it easy to forget just how brilliant van Persie was before injuries halted his progress. The eleventh hour fitness struggles at Manchester United and beyond came after an initial blistering 18 months under Ferguson. Staying in North London may have brought more longevity due to Wenger’s management.

Yet when considering the years lost to injury at Arsenal, it seems there was an element of simple misfortune rather than any premeditated plan to down tools. Van Persie’s body, not his mindset limited his longevity at the top level.

Did He Underachieve Internationally?

51 goals in 104 caps was a commendable return, but his record in major tournaments ultimately disappointed. Yet he was far from the only guilty party as a supremely gifted Dutch squad fell short through perceived divisions and clashes between players.

In South Africa 2010 and Brazil 2014, Holland possessed the talent to be crowned world champions but a perceived lack unity possibly cost them. Winning club trophies yet never tasting that kind of success for Netherlands must still hurt van Persie after such high initial expectations.


In conclusion, while one of the most naturally skilled strikers of the Premier League era, a combination of acrimony, unrestrained ambition, questionable statements and celebrations have all played a part in tarnishing Robin van Persie’s overall reputation.

His world-class goalscoring abilities deserved immense appreciation yet animosity stemming from his Arsenal exit, decision to join Manchester United and perceived greed have largely defined his legacy instead.

Moments of controversy, injuries later in his career, failures with Netherlands and an abrupt decline have further shaped the damaged image. Considering his extraordinary talent exhibited between 2009-2015, van Persie’s overall standing in the game does feel somewhat undervalued.

Nevertheless, restoring it now appears extremely difficult given past actions. The situation almost acts as warning for other players not to sacrifice their strong emotional connection with fans, no matter how alluring rival opportunities may seem.

Ultimately, van Persie is respected for his quality on the field yet distinctly unloved off it – an complex dichotomy that looks set to remain for one of the Premier League’s most divisive ever imports.

FAQs About Why People Hate Van Persie

Why did Van Persie leave Arsenal?

Van Persie left Arsenal in 2012 after 8 seasons primarily seeking a move to finally win major trophies – stating the Gunners’ hierarchy lacked “ambition” and looked unlikely to challenge for the Premier League title in the forthcoming seasons. A £24 million moved to rivals Manchester United materialized where he won the league in his first season.

What was Van Persie’s “infamous quote”?

After joining Manchester United, van Persie stated he finally realized his full potential, proclaiming: “If you look at the stats it all proves it – I’m 36, I win more duels, get more assists.” The quote was perceived as arrogant and offended Arsenal fans.

Why did van Persie fall out of favor at Manchester United?

Having fired United to the title in 2012-13, Robin van Persie ultimately fell down the pecking order under new manager David Moyes before injuries also became problematic in his second year. 18 months exceptional form was followed by fitness and form struggles before being sold to Fenerbahce in 2015.

Did Van Persie achieve his trophy ambitions?

Yes. After the initial title success, van Persie also won the FA Cup, League Cup and Community Shield during his time at Manchester United. He filled the main void on his resume by lifting the Premier League trophy.

What major trophies did Van Persie win?

1 x Premier League (2012/13) 1 x FA Cup (2015/16)
1 x Football League Cup (2016/17) 1 x FA Community Shield (2013)

Could Van Persie have repaired his Arsenal relationship?

The standard of his performances means he will always be regarded as a Gunners great. However, the manner of his departure to rivals United coupled with negative comments afterwards made the relationship too bitter to fully reconcile. Returning years later may see tensions ease but regaining their total love appears unlikely.

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