Friday 22 September 2017

'I was always happy here' - Arsene Wenger breaks his silence over his approach to take over at Manchester United

Arsene Wenger, left, and Sir Alex Ferguson, right, had a heated rivalry
Arsene Wenger, left, and Sir Alex Ferguson, right, had a heated rivalry
Kevin Palmer

Kevin Palmer

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has hinted that he turned down an approach to succeed Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager, amid suggestions he met with Old Trafford chiefs over the role 15 years ago.

Former United chairman Martin Edwards is set to reveal in an upcoming book that Wenger was United's first choice candidate to take over when Ferguson decided to retire as manager in 2002.

In the end, Ferguson changed his mind and signed a new deal before finally leaving the club in 2013, but Edwards confirms he had meetings with Wenger and suggested there was some interest from the Frenchman in taking over at Old Trafford.

"Our first choice was Arsene," he said in his forthcoming book Red Glory: Manchester United and Me.

"We thought he was the best candidate to replace Alex. Certainly he was my number one choice.

"So we made our approach and Wenger did show a little bit of interest, enough to want to meet (chief executive) Peter Kenyon and me at his house in London to listen to what we had to say."

Wenger has now given his response to the story, with his eagerness not to confirm how close he was to leaving Arsenal for United, but he was keen to point out he has always been content in the role he has held since 1996.

When asked whether he was tempted when United came calling, he offer this response: "No because I was always happy here.  I love the values of this club.

"Maybe one day I will get all the contacts I had during my stay at Arsenal and it will make a few chapters, but you should ask Martin Edwards.

"Why do I stay here? I love the values of this club.

"For me, a club is about values first and as well because I know what has changed. One day it would be a good chat to have with the press to look at the evolution.

"A lot has changed, but when I came here this club was about values that I love in sport and that's why I'm still in the competition.

"So I will always question myself. Yes, of course Man Utd is attractive, but am I happy here? The answer is yes."

Wenger has often hinted he has turned down several approaches to take over top clubs, with Real Madrid, Bayern Munich and Paris Saint-Germain among the clubs that have tried and failed to tempt Wenger away from Arsenal over the last two decades.

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