Arsene Wenger rules out appointing sporting director at Arsenal

LONDON -- Arsene Wenger has emphatically ruled out the possibility of Arsenal hiring a sporting director as long as he remains manager, insisting he will always be in charge of technical matters.

Wenger has yet to announce whether he's staying on as manager after his contract expires this summer, but made it clear that he's not ready to cede some of his responsibilities to a director of football, who could oversee transfer dealings and contract negotiations.

"No, no, no. Sorry, no," Wenger told a news conference on Tuesday when asked about the possibility of a restructuring. "I'm the manager of Arsenal Football Club and as long as I'm manager of Arsenal Football Club, I will decide what happens on the technical front. And that's it."

That stance could potentially put him on a collision course with CEO Ivan Gazidis, who has promised to make changes in response to the club's run of poor results since the turn of the year. Arsenal risk missing out on the Premier League's top four for the first time under Wenger after losing games to Chelsea, Liverpool, West Brom, Crystal Palace and Tottenham since February.

Gazidis has reportedly started drawing up a list of candidates for a sporting director role, but Wenger said he doesn't see the point of such a position.

"I don't know what director of football means. Is it somebody who stands in the road and directs players right and left?" he said. "I don't understand and I never did understand what it means."

Arsenal travel to Southampton on Wednesday needing a win to keep alive their slim hopes of a top-four finish. Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka are both doubts for the game after picking up knocks in Sunday's 2-0 win over Manchester United. And with Arsenal facing four league games in 11 days before the FA Cup final against Chelsea a week later, Wenger indicated he may rotate his team liberally.

"We have to use the squad in a very efficient way because we play four games of high intensity in 10 days," he said. "It will be important that everybody in the squad contributes at the right moment."

Wenger was boosted by his first-ever league win over Jose Mourinho on Sunday, with the frosty relationship between the two rival managers also seeming to have thawed somewhat.

Mourinho still made a small barb aimed at Wenger after the game, by claiming the Arsenal boss continually puts too much pressure on the fourth official during games. The two managers had a slight argument during the match after Wenger remonstrated with the fourth official following a late tackle by Wayne Rooney on Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.

But Wenger said he didn't think Mourinho's latest criticism was warranted.

"Honestly, I didn't feel that I put pressure on the fourth official. It's true that I went to see him once or twice during the game, but it was amicable," he said. "Maybe he had that impression, but I didn't feel I went overboard on that."