After all was said and done, the return of Robin van Persie to the Emirates was rather subdued. For all the belief that he deserved a welcome as hostile as possible, when it comes down to it, football fans only really have one weapon in their armoury – the boo.
And when the drama was over, and Arsene Wenger was asked if Sir Alex Ferguson wanted any more of the Frenchman’s players, the Arsenal manager swiftly closed that particular door.
“I don’t know but he will not sign them from us,” he said.
Strong words they may have been. But they were also a year too late.
Had he been equally adamant when he still had van Persie in his ranks, perhaps this season would have turned out rather different.
Instead Wenger’s words sounded like a promise requiring no effort. Because United already have what they wanted from Arsenal, why would they need to return?
Of course there is Jack Wilshere. But you get the same sense from the 21-year-old as you always have from the likes of Ryan Giggs and Steven Gerrard (despite his one-time wobble).
Wilshere, despite his youth, gives the impression of being a one-club man.
So Wenger made a statement he would only ever be required to assert in words, not in actions.
And while Gunners fans may rest easy knowing they won’t be seeing any more players switch to a United shirt any time soon, they will hope the declaration of not selling stretches to all clubs, not just to the champions.
It is time for Arsenal to build a club that can challenge again.
Gone are the days of selling players seeking success elsewhere. They must offer the realistic chance of success in North London.
Their achievement in defeating Bayern Munich 2-0 in Germany grows more impressive with every new feat by the Bundesliga champions.
And while it was just one game, it has fuelled them for a run-in they must motor through.
Having almost strolled in by accident earlier in the day, van Persie apparently spent time in the Gunners’ dressing room.
“…because the food is better in our dressing room,” Wenger quipped.
That may be the case, but it is time that everything was better at Arsenal.
This summer will show how much Wenger is prepared to make that so.
What does Wenger need to do to ensure success returns to Arsenal?
image: © Matt and Kim Rudge