Former Manchester United chairman, Martin Edwards, has revealed in his new autobiography, Red Glory: Manchester United and Me, that Arsene Wenger was a serious contender to take over from Sir Alex Ferguson.
Back in 2001/2002, Fergie informed United that he was leaving and the Red Devils wanted Wenger as his replacement. The Frenchman has only been at Arsenal for five years yet had already won the Premier League twice and the FA Cup twice.
Edwards was confident of landing their man.
“Our first choice was Arsene,” Edwards wrote, reports the Sun.
“Since joining Arsenal in 1996 Wenger had been pretty successful, especially in his first full season in charge when he won the Double.
“And while it’s true to say he suffered hard times since, at the time 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 Peter Kenyon and me at his house in London to listen to what we had to say.
“In fact, we had a couple of meetings with him and for a while we thought there was a possibility of him joining us.
“But I think Wenger felt loyalty to David Dein.
“He was very close to David and that was the reason he gave us in the end for turning down United.
“He felt he had started something with Arsenal and that his attachment to the club was too great, he didn’t want to break that bond.”
Fergie, however, obviously had a change of heart and wouldn’t go on to retire until 2013. Looking back, I’m sure the Scotsman is glad he didn’t considering how successful he went on to be.
Wenger, on the other hand, led Arsenal to win the title after going a season unbeaten. He also won the FA Cup another five times and became the most successful manager in the history of the trophy.
However, if he had gone on the title drought that we’ve had to endure at Arsenal at United, he wouldn’t still be in the job. No matter how respected he is, the club wouldn’t have stood for it. Although I guess they have the money to be able to afford not to stand for it.