Cesc Fabregas was booed before, during and after his appearance for Chelsea at the weekend. Rightly or wrongly their fans have decided that he was one of the major figures in the downfall of Jose Mourinho. None of us know if he really was, but his public support of the manager would be seriously at odds with reality if he really was leading a dressing-room revolt. To be honest I can't see John Terry allowing some newbie like Fabregas to have any great influence over his team. Regardless of that, the reaction of the Chelsea supporters got me to thinking about how Cesc's career has gone. It seems bizarre for a player of such profound and undoubted football ability to actually be not liked by the supporters of any of his clubs. When I thought about it further I realised that Cesc isn't the only recent Arsenal skipper to be thought of in this way. Let's face it Robin Van Persie and William Gallas are also in that bracket. Two of them, Cesc and RVP, should have been Arsenal legends. They will end their career with no club to look back on thinking "this is my team" in the way that people like Thierry Henry and Tony Adams can. Dennis Bergkamp has two of them!
When Fabregas left Arsenal I would say the majority of the supporters still loved him. He had blotted his copybook with some through his snide dealings with Barcelona to get his transfer. It is seemingly well reported that he refused to train in that pre-season, effectively going on strike, and his "hamstring" problems of the preceding 12 months are a largely distant memory in his career. In forcing himself away from Arsenal, with just the one trophy on his CV, he got his dream move home to Barcelona. His arrival saw the beginning of the end of Guardiola's time there. While still successful Cesc came to symbolise, in the fans eyes, the downturn from the peak years under Pep. He could never really displace Xavi and Iniesta from the side and, when he did, results weren't perhaps what the regulars were used to. By the time his Barcelona career came to an end Fabregas was actively disliked by sections of the Nou Camp crowd.
Given that Arsenal had first option on Fabregas it seemed certain that he would return to us when it went sour back in Barcelona. We could have got him cheap. The fans, even those who were annoyed with how he had left, would have had him back in a heartbeat. Clearly Wenger had not forgiven him and passed up the opportunity to bring back a sensational midfield player. And all of this at a time when Ozil was singularly failing to live up to the hype. Cesc went to Chelsea instead and, in the first half of last season, effectively won them the Premier League. The Arsenal fans were raging as we watched him unlock opposition defences while we were awful for most of the first half of the season. However, there was one quote from Arsene that I found more than interesting; when asked about Cesc going to Chelsea he replied that Fabregas had "maybe ended up where he wanted". We had all thought that Cesc had begged for a return, and I know Arsene is prone to not telling the truth, but this stuck with me. Maybe, just maybe, Cesc never wanted to come back to Arsenal. He chose to go and play for a club that has become a bitter rival to Arsenal. More than that he had gone to play for Mourinho, a hated man in Barcelona and a man obsessed by an ongoing war with Arsene Wenger - the manager who had created Cesc Fabregas as a top player. When Chelsea played us Fabregas did it with a scowl on his face and clear scorn for anyone in a red shirt. He should have been sent-off and, when Welbeck smashed him in the last few minutes most of us loved it. There were a number of idiots that applauded him on his return to our stadium but I think most of them have now realised the error of their ways after Fabregas' words at the end of the season.
Fabregas will now look back on his career and realise that he has no "home". He is treated, at best, with indifference by the supporters of Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea. If he was to leave Chelsea as a result of this recent business I would probably still take him back, especially given our injury issues, but I could never love him as an Arsenal player like I used to. What a waste of such a brilliant talent.
Cesc is not alone, of course. There is also the curious case of his Arsenal contemporary Robin Van Persie. Here is a man disliked all across his home country, despite being an exceptional player in the national team. At Arsenal he is hated beyond belief for the way he went about leaving us. And then he went to Manchester United, won them the Premier League, and left under a cloud as their fans totally turned on him. At Fenerbache he simply looks like a player that would rather be doing something other than playing football for a living.
Van Persie had it all at Arsenal. He had finally stayed fit for more than three months and was the absolute hero of the Arsenal faithful. No striker in English football was as good or as devastating as RVP. He was the Arsenal Captain and we had come within a whisker, a couple of times, of winning the Premier League. Obviously that is frustrating for players, but to do what he did was unforgivable. We all knew well the photo of Robin in his bedroom as a child, wearing his Arsenal kit. Despite being foreign he was an Arsenal Man. Or so we all thought.
The statement he issued to announce he was to leave Arsenal, having clearly done the deal with Manchester United behind our backs, was intended to salve the open wound. He thought we were stupid. The phrase "the little boy inside me" brought that photo back to haunt him. Quite simply he became the Frank Stapleton of his generation. He was nothing more than a greedy c**t, just like Stapleton had been. Robin Van Persie threw away his legendary status at Arsenal for the sake of a Premier League Title which, had he stayed with us, might well have come his way in any case - the form he showed at Old Trafford in that first season would have fired us to the summit as it did them. Now, when he is in his dotage, he will realise he is not remembered fondly by anyone. It's sad when you think about it.
There will be the usual Christmas Eve post tomorrow.