Former Arsenal chairman Peter Hill-Wood says there is nothing for Gunners fans to worry about regarding Arsene Wenger's lack of a new contract and has ruled out Jose Mourinho ever taking over the North London club.
Speaking ahead of Wenger's 1,000th game in charge, which takes place on Saturday at Stamford Bridge, Hill-Wood praised his old colleague's ability to develop players and insisted "it is most unlikely" Mourinho would receive the Arsenal post when the current manager moves on, as reported by David Woods of the Daily Star.
In January, Wenger was rumoured to be negotiating a deal that would "take him into an unprecedented third decade" at the club, reported by Jeremy Wilson of The Telegraph. This has failed to happen, and reports have begun to circulate suggesting Wenger "wants guarantees that he will remain in full charge of signings before putting pen to paper," noted by Neil Moxley of the Mirror.
Hill-Wood says Arsenal fans shouldn't lose sleep, even if Wenger receives tempting offers from elsewhere, per Woods' report:
I have spoken to Ivan Gazidis he is very confident that there isn't a problem, that he just doesn't want to sign up right now. That's all. It's not a question of somebody dangling great riches in front of him. That actually doesn't interest him.
I don't think his enthusiasm has diminished at all. He doesn't think his job is finished yet.
The first half of Wenger's reign was dominated by success as he racked up three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and four Community Shield wins between 1997 and 2004. Since then, the Gunners have suffered a notorious lack of silverware, failing to capture any major trophy in nearly nine years.
Leading for much of the current Premier League campaign, it now seems unlikely Arsenal have the firepower to catch Chelsea at the top. Wenger's team will fall seven points behind if they lose at Stamford Bridge, a chasm-like deficit at this stage of the season.
Arsenal's best chance of securing a trophy this year is the FA Cup. A semi-final tie against Wigan Athletic awaits, and if the Gunners can negotiate Uwe Rosler's high-flyers, a final versus Hull or Sheffield United ensures Arsenal are favourites.
The Times' Oliver Kay highlights the wait between trophies:
Wenger's most recent (I won't call it last) trophy came in match no 497 in charge of Arsenal. Tmrw is match 1,000. Wait nearly over?— Oliver Kay (@OliverKayTimes) March 21, 2014
While perhaps not the prize many fans are hankering for, at this point, there's no room to pick and choose. Wenger has always done enough to maintain his job security—this season's fast start and acquisition of Mesut Ozil reminded everyone he means business—but Arsenal's inability to see objectives through has often frustrated under the Frenchman.
Will Arsene Wenger win the Premier League again as Arsenal manager?
The future certainly appears bright, however. Wenger has money to deploy, a competitive squad and young players who continue to improve. He is expected to spend significantly during the summer in an attempt to maintain pace with Chelsea and Manchester City—a task that is sure to provide plenty of excitement considering Wenger parted with £42 million for Ozil.
Like Sir Alex Ferguson's legacy at Manchester United, Wenger has achieved the rare feat of embroidering his personality into everything the club represents. Arsenal are globally known as a meticulous, fast-paced passing side and a team that often plays attractive football without compromising on results.
Mourinho's proposed arrival would represent a giant change to that culture, a likely reason for why the pair engage in verbal sparring so often.
Wenger's lack of trophies may go on to define the latter half of his reign, but it's his total influence over the North London outfit that secures his legendary status.