How the man who came to define Arsenal Football Club turned down the Manchester United job.
Arsene Wenger claims he turned down the chance to replace Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United back in 2001 because he loved Arsenal’s values too much.
Although Arsenal and Manchester United fought a ferocious battle for Premier League dominance in the early 2000s, Wenger was offered the chance to replace his greatest foe, when Ferguson aimed to retire at the end of the 2001-02 season, a decision he later reversed.
The then-chairman at United, Martin Edwards, claimed to have met with Wenger in London to discuss whether he would be open to leaving Arsenal for United. But the Frenchman was unmoved and opted to stay in North London.
“I am always very confidential. One day maybe I will get all the contacts I had during my stay at Arsenal and it would make a few chapters. You should ask Martin Edwards.”
When pressed on whether he was even tempted to join United, Wenger had this to say:
“Because I love the values of this club and, for me, a club is about values first,” he said. “One day it would be a good chat to have with the press to look at the evolution. You speak about Manchester United, and the evolution in the last 20 years would be very interesting. A lot has changed but when I came here this club was about values that I love in sport. That is why I am still in the competition.
“So I always question myself. Yes, of course, Manchester United is attractive but am I happy here? The answer was yes.”
How different the history of English football would be had Wenger left Arsenal for United. Judging by the way things went in the first decade of the 21st century, United fans are probably more than happy that Ferguson and Wenger stayed put.