The Premier League has been rendered illustrious as a result of brilliant players, die hard supporters, and fantastic teams. But a more crucial role is played by the managers – architects of the English game who have pieced and plowed their way over the years to craft the modern style. Clear standouts are long-time servants Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsène Wenger.
However, it has now emerged that Wenger could have ended up at the helm of Manchester United, after having been given an opportunity to succeed his rival. United’s ex-chairman, Martin Edwards, has revealed in his autobiography ‘Red Glory’ that Wenger was, in fact, the club’s first choice replacement for their Scottish legend.
Edwards wrote: “Our first choice was Arsene. Since joining Arsenal in 1996 Wenger had been greatly successful, especially in his first full season in charge when he won the Double.”
The looming decision arose as a result of Fergie’s choice to retire during the 2001-2002 season. However, choosing not to exit on a low after having lost the title that season, Sir Alex decided to stay, much to the relief of United supporters, and continued to make history with the side till his eventual retirement in 2013.
As to Wenger’s choice to stay on with Arsenal, Edwards had this to say: “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.” David Dein was Arsenal’s vice-chairman at the time, and is believed to have shared a close bond with the French manager.
However, when the man himself was enquired about why he turned down the job, Wenger revealed: “No, because I was always happy 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.”
Despite his shortcomings over the long term, the French boss certainly wields powerful charisma a1nd a strong grasp of the players, and has apparently been pursued by several European clubs.
Whilst the Old Trafford job is certainly in the past, he now has the present to concentrate on, with his side eager to show a strong presence in the Premier League this season. Perhaps their 3-0 victory against Bournemouth on Saturday is an indication of a change of fate for the London club.
Written by Naveen Kelvin
A writer trying to craft the poetry within football. Purpose in life is to Make Good Art.