LONDON (AP) – Although he has not won a trophy in eight years, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger keeps enjoying the backing of the club's owner and thinks a prolonged stay could make him ''immortal.''
Wenger, the longest serving manager in the English Premier League after 17 years in charge, reiterated his desire to stay at the London club beyond next summer when his contract expires.
''Honestly, I would love to be here forever because that would mean I would be immortal,'' Wenger told a news conference on Friday ahead of Arsenal's trip to Swansea. ''I'm not naive enough to believe that. What I would like to do as long as I am here is give my best for this club because I love this club.''
The Frenchman was targeted by Paris Saint-Germain last season but this week received the full backing of Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke, who said he wants him to remain on a long-term basis and feels ''totally aligned'' with Wenger.
''I am very honored to have the support of Stan Kroenke,'' said Wenger, adding that he has turned away many jobs offers during his tenure. ''That he thinks I can help the club is a huge confidence vote. That is something for me that is very positive. I don't know (when I will sign a new contract). When we find time.''
Not everyone at the club seemed to share the owner's views earlier this season when Wenger was criticized by supporters for his failure to attract big players. But the signing of German playmaker Mesut Ozil for a club-record transfer fee of 50 million euros combined with the Gunners' good start to the season has eased tensions.
Arsenal, whose last trophy was an FA Cup in 2005, tops the Premier League standings after five games for its best start in five years - reversing a trend of slow starts.
Wenger is also credited for the club's healthy financial results over the years. But many fans are craving for another trophy, nostalgic of an era when the Gunners were fighting toe to toe for the Premier League title every season.
Wenger, who was appointed as Arsenal manager in October 1996, did not take long to win his first trophy, guiding the Gunners to the Premier League title in 1998. He won it again in 2002 and triumphantly claimed a third crown two years later as his side stayed unbeaten during the entire league campaign.
''Our job has a good advantage: You just look forward to the next game. You never look back,'' said Wenger, being asked to reflect on his 17 years in charge. ''I believe that is the most important. Of course when you look backward, there's a lot of effort and consistency in effort behind that. For me the most interesting is tomorrow's game.''