Arsenal should have stood firm and told Robin van Persie he would only be sold abroad, not to rivals Manchester United, writes Frank Malley.
If the forums and the phone-ins are anything to go by, then the mood at the Emirates when Arsenal take on Sunderland on Saturday will be distinctly irate.
'No morals, guts, heart or commitment to the cause, that is the message Arsenal have just sent out. Never will win anything by taking Manchester United's money. Start of the season scuppered again.'
That was just one of the reactions to the news that Robin van Persie appeared bound for Old Trafford in a £24million transfer.
It wasn't so much that van Persie looked to be on his way. That was a foregone conclusion from the moment he refused to sign a new contract with just one year left on his current deal.
The anger surrounded the fact that he was going to United.
That stuck a hot stick in an old wound, reminding Arsenal fans of what life used to be like when manager Arsenal Wenger slugged it out with Sir Alex Ferguson for football's top prizes.
Three times, in 1998, 2002 and 2004, Wenger wrested the Premier League title from United. The managers were sworn adversaries. Matches between the clubs were like watching a pair of rutting stags
Remember the ill-tempered clashes between Martin Keown and Ruud van Nistelrooy, the bust-ups between Patrick Vieira and Roy Keane and the pizza-throwing incident in 2004 when Ferguson emerged from the tunnel with food down his suit?
The needle was there because the clubs were so tightly matched. In those days the thought of selling Arsenal's best player, at the time Thierry Henry, to Manchester United would have been unthinkable. That is at the heart of the dismay felt by Arsenal supporters right now.
Selling van Persie to United is a symbol of the fading of the light. It says Arsenal are no longer big players in the world's richest and most famous league.
No longer can they keep their top stars. Instead they have to sell them off to once-bitter rivals, making the task of winning a fourth Premier League title little more than a distant dream.
They were just as impotent before the start of last season when Cesc Fabregas decided he wanted to return to his boyhood club, Barcelona, and when Samir Nasri elected to jump aboard the money train at Manchester City, following Gael Clichy.
There is a trend appearing here. Big stars believe they have a better chance of winning trophies and earning top dollar at somewhere other than the Emirates stadium.
Of course, Wenger trots out the usual manager speak at such times.
"It's never great to lose players of that quality but he only had a year contract so we do not have a choice," he said.
And, it is true, business sense decreed van Persie had to go. But the old Arsenal would have told him there was no chance he was going to United or City or any other club imminently capable of winning the trophies Arsenal were chasing.
The old Arsenal would have sold him abroad, perhaps for less money but in the certain knowledge that he would not be back to cause them embarrassment deep into the coming season.
Actually that's wrong. The old Arsenal, the one run by a Wenger with a vision of ruling English football playing technically-gifted and attractive football but with steel to match, would have convinced van Persie that the Gunners were the future.
We are long past that. There have been too many let-downs, too many departures, too many false dawns at Arsenal.
Wenger appears to have accepted he can no longer compete with the best. He has "no choice". That is why there are so many Mr Irates at the Emirates.