Former chairman reveals why Wenger turned down United

Date published: Thursday 31st August 2017 2:35

Arsene Wenger showed “a little bit of interest” in replacing Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United manager in 2002, but eventually chose to stay at Arsenal.

Wenger was one of a number of candidates on a shortlist to replace Ferguson when the Scot announced his decision to step down as manager at the end of the 2001/02 Premier League season.

Ferguson eventually changed his mind and stayed at Old Trafford for a further decade, but Wenger was approached about replacing his former nemesis.

According to former United chairman Martin Edwards, the Frenchman rejected the chance only out of loyalty to ex-Arsenal vice-chairman David Dein.

“Our first choice was Arsene,” Edwards revealed in his new autobiography, Red Glory.

“Since joining Arsenal in 1996 Wenger had been greatly 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 the bond.”

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