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Robben, Arjen (2004-2007)


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Arjen Robben (2004-2007)

Written by Loz in May 2007

If the glass in my window was as fragile as Arjen Robben I would never get an insurance policy! Robben almost makes Darren Anderton look solid however, injury proneness aside, he is still one of the finest wingers in the game at the time of writing (May 2007) and a potential match winner when he is on form.

robben%201988%20nipper.jpg He was born in a small town in the North East of Holland called Bedum, which basically serves as a commuter town for Groningen. He played for local teams when he was young and was to benefit as a youngster from being exposed to the Coerver Method, a coaching technique pioneered by Dutch coach Wiel Corver in which players were developed in an almost piecemeal fashion starting from simple ball control and working gradually up through a whole raft of phases.

Robben impressed from an early age and FC Groningen signed him when at the age of 15 and put him into their youth team for the 1999-2000 season. He scored 50 goals for the youth team and was to be rewarded with a place in the first team squad in November 2000, two months shy of his seventeenth birthday. He didn’t play that day but only had to wait a further month before he made his first team debut. In 2000-01 he was named the club’s player of the year. In the 2001-02 season he caught the eye of PSV Eindhoven who signed him in time for the start of the 2002-03 season. (Not 100% sure of my facts here – I think he may have signed for PSV in 2001 and then gone back to Groningen on loan for a season).

robben%20psv%20title.jpg In his debut season for PSV he was named joint player of the year alongside Mateja Kezman (yes him, the man who runs with his eyes glued to his boots) as PSV won their 17th title. Don’t forget he was still only 18 turning 19 at this point.

It was at some stage in the 2003-04 season when Robben only just avoided a career damaging incident. Not an injury, not a brush with cocaine, and not a night in Amsterdam with a lady called Busty Bernice – no this was far more severe. Robben travelled over to Blighty to discuss a possible transfer with Old Red Nose Ferguson, a fate worse than syphilis I’m sure you’ll agree. Fortunately Man Utd went for the biscuit tin approach with an offer in the region of £7m, an offer PSV scoffed at. Chelsea, being the money bags, enemies of football blah blah blah that they are/were (delete based on your newspaper editor’s opinion) came in with a far more respectable offer and a deal was done.

robben%20chelsea%202005.jpg The start to Robben’s career with Chelsea was to start as it was to continue, with an injury! This particular one was a broken metatarsal (possibly the most famous football injury in the world ever since people stopped calling it a broken toe) that he suffered in a challenge by Oliver Dacourt in a pre-season match.

Cometh November 2004, cometh the man!! Robben burst into the first team and Chelsea began to score for fun. He was the Premiership Player of the Month that month and I, as well as many others, was blown away by the potential of this balding 20 year old. I recall, somewhat prematurely, thinking we may be about to witness the development of a player who will still be talked about in 50 years time.

robben%20on%20parade%20%20bus%202005.jpg However it was not to be all champagne and mars bars for Robben as he suffered another bad injury in a game against Blackburn, a game where Mark Hughes had clearly instructed his team to kick whatever moved before it got away from you. As a result he missed Chelsea’s successful title run in and he was beaten to the accolade of PFA Young Player of the Season by some scouser who resembles a pot bellied pig and likes sleeping with women who play bridge with Thora Hird.

The 2005-06 season provided us with a glimpse of the Robben we will all probably have to learn to live with. Stunningly talented on some occasions, terrible sense of gravity on others and an ability pick up minor injuries purely by looking into the wind. He played a key part in the retention of the Premiership title and also managed to infuriate a bunch of bleating scousers by going down like a lead balloon when Reina tickled his chin. Reina was red carded for his troubles, a decision I may have accepted was harsh if it wasn’t for the fact that he has inexplicably been let off for cutting Eidur Gudjohnsen in two with an appalling tackle from behind just moments earlier. Rafa was angry, so much so that you could almost smell the marshmallow around his breasts beginning to toast in the heat.

robben%20injured%203.gif 2006-07 was when we were to really start to wonder if it was worth it (personally I thought it was, Robben is a hugely talented winger). Jose Mourinho’s decision to ditch the 4-3-3/4-5-1 formation in favour of the midfield diamond (AKA ‘the death of football’ – copyright Liam) meant a wingers lot was a miserable one at the start of the season. Robben found himself benched on a regular basis and it wasn’t until November that he was to get a chance to prove his worth again. From that point on a pattern seemed to emerge. Robben would have a decent game, people would get their hopes up, then he would pick up a niggling injury which would keep him out for a few weeks.

Many started to doubt his worth to the squad even though he still made tangible contributions in the bit parts he played. Fine games against Wigan just before Christmas and again in January, setting up Shevchenko against Porto in the Champions League, coming off the bench to set up Drogba for the winner in the Carling Cup final then scoring against Porto in the 2nd leg of the Champions League tie.

robben%20winning%20fa%20cup.jpg n March 2007 Robben had his knee operated on and it was thought that his season was over, and maybe his Chelsea career as there have been many rumours of interest from the continent and speculation that Mourinho had grown tired of his tendency to pick up injuries. However he was to return to come off the bench in the FA Cup final, albeit to be subbed of again in extra time due to injury!!

Days after lifting the trophy there are rumours of a new contract about to be signed. However come the start of the season no contract had been signed. After three league games and the Community Shield Robben was yet to kick a ball in anger and his future very uncertain as rumours about a move to Real Madrid continued to hog the headlines and Malouda impressed in the early stages of his Chelsea career. Robben was to be seen in the stand watching the matches and looking like he had enjoyed a few dinners with Mickey Quinn.

Then on the evening of August 22nd it was announced on the official Chelsea website that an agreement had been struck with Real Madrid subject to Robben agreeing personal terms and passing a medical. The formality of the medical was processed the following day and Arjen's time as a semi fit Chelsea player were over. The fee was not disclosed but was widely reported to be somewhere in the region of £21m.

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