Arsene Wenger is Arsenal's best ever manager - but if he doesn't change his transfer policy then he might not be remembered as such
Arsene Wenger becomes Arsenal's longest serving manager today
Wenger has been Arsenal's best manager of all time because he has won three league titles and four FA Cups in incredible difficult and competitive times.
But Wenger himself accepts that this is a pivotal season for his transfer policy at Arsenal. Wenger has put his faith in young players and homegrown talent even though the club has £50m-plus to spend.
I've seen some columnists say that Wenger is prudent not to dip into an inflated transfer market. Presumably, Arsenal will then give Manchester City £20m back because they paid over the odds for Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor.
Funnily enough, you didn't hear Wenger complaining about City's summer spending before Arsenal played them at Eastlands as the Frenchman ducked the question, knowing he'd done well to bank £36m from the sale of Toure and Adebayor.
There's another thing that doesn't sit well with me either. How is it that Arsenal charge some of the highest prices for tickets in the Premier League and yet run the team on limited resources? To me, the two things don't tally. Pay big money for your ticket - but we won't buy big in the transfer market.
And before fans start killing me on Twitter and forums by saying the media has got it in for Wenger, can I please remind those people as to what happened at the end of last season.
At one game, I saw a fan go up to a Five Live reporter and shout into his microphone: "Wenger out." Then at an end-of-season shareholders' meeting, Wenger had his management questioned for the first time during his glorious reign.
That wasn't the media. That was fans and shareholders. And if people think that was just a lone voice then they are mistaken. It's still the minority, but fans are getting restless and impatient. If Arsenal don't deliver a trophy this season or fail to make the top four then expect the voices to grow.
Now, let's make this clear: I don't think for a moment that Wenger should go. He's the best manager Arsenal have ever had and is irreplaceable.
But Wenger should change his transfer policy. It's not working. Four years without a trophy and now a real scrap on Arsenal's hands to keep their top four status. City's arrival, Tottenham's revival and the other three all spent far more than Arsenal in the summer.
Arsenal, meanwhile, bought wisely in Thomas Vermaelen. Brilliant business at £8.5m. But then they wouldn't spend an extra £1m to buy Marouane Chamakh because their valuation fell just short of Bordeaux's £6m. Wenger didn't want to pay over the odds. Er, but what about Toure and Adebayor?
Then there was a deal set up for Philippe Senderos to join Everton. Senderos even had talks with them. It broke down. Why? Because Arsenal put the price up to £5m, arguing that Senderos is younger than Joleon Lescott who was about to be sold for £22m. Again, what about Toure and Adebayor?
Sure, Arsenal have a good team. But their squad is nowhere near strong enough to mount a genuine challenge for the Premier League from now until May.
They look strong in central defence. But do we really think Vermaelen and William Gallas will last the whole season? Johan Djourou is - surprise, surprise - injured. Senderos didn't want to stay at the club, he wanted a new challenge and understandably so.
In midfield, Abou Diaby is filling in for Denilson. Diaby is one of the most frustrating players I've ever seen. He's brilliantly talented but is either lazy or incredibly inconsistent. Robin van Persie is enjoying a great season but he will get injured.
That is why you need a strong, competitive squad. That's why Arsenal should have bought their other summer targerts. St Etienne midfielder Blaise Matuidi and Borussia Dortmund defender Neven Subotic. But guess what? They didn't want to spend the money.
In the past, I've defended Wenger while some fans have criticised him for not spending big money. Fans also couldn't work out whether he had money to spend or the cash had been drained by the stadium. If he didn't have money, then he was doing an amazing job on limited resources. If he did have money, then he was being foolish and a tightwad.
Money has been tight in the past. Andriy Arshavin's £12m transfer fee in January was a record and part of it came out of Wenger's summer budget.
But now - rightly or wrongly - Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis has laid it on the line. Arsenal made a £35.2m profit and the cash from the sales of Toure and Adebayor is also available to invest in new players. There can be no misunderstanding.
However, Wenger's stubborn belief in his "project" prevents him from spending money. Yes, he's bought bargains. Van Persie cost just £2.75m five years ago. Cesc Fabregas arrived as a 16 year old from Barcelona. An amazing capture.
But you get what you pay for. Arsenal banked some serious cash this summer. The fans want trophies and the club is in serious danger of misjudging the mood.
Wenger has talked about this being a pivotal season, hinting that if it doesn't work this season then maybe his "project" is doomed to fail. Well, he hasn't got time to experiment and wait.
He needs success now because if Arsenal finish empty handed then the fans will be furious that there was money in Wenger's pocket - and he chose not to spend it. After all, that money partly comes from the sky-high ticket prices that those same fans pay every week.
Wenger is a brilliant manager and his success and glorious reign will go down in history. But if Arsenal have another barren season then it will detract from the wonderful success he has achieved in the past.