Arsene Wenger and Sir Alex Ferguson..

The reason Arsene Wenger turned down the Manchester United job in 2001

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Whether gooners like to admit it or not right now, Arsene Wenger is simply an Arsenal legend.

When the Frenchman moved to Higbury in 1996 he was taunted with headlines of ‘Arsene Who?’ but quickly silenced the doubters. His first eight years at the club saw two doubles and the first invincible season since 1889.

Since 2006, the club have stagnated under the Frenchman and the WengerOut campaign is trumpeting to a crescendo.


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Nevertheless, Wenger has achieved something unique in enduring in north London for over two decades. Only Sir Alex Ferguson can better that feat with the 27-years he marshaled Manchester United.

Had proceedings gone a little differently in 2002, though, neither manager would be boasting their proud longevity records.

That’s because, Ferguson famously announced his intention to retire during the 2001-02 season. Consequently, United began assessing their options for a replacement.

And, rather astonishingly, former United chairman Martin Edwards revealed that their number one choice was indeed Wenger. Furthermore, several meetings took place between the Frenchman and United.

But what went wrong? After all, Wenger’s decision to rebuff the Red Devils preceded Ferguson’s retirement U-turn.

Man Utd Training X

The Arsenal boss has revealed the answer and it comes down to the nature of the two clubs.

Wenger explained: “I was always happy here [Arsenal], people were happy with me and I always happy," as per the Mirror.

“Because I love the values of this club and, for me, a club is about values first. One day it would be a good chat to have with the press to look at the evolution.

“You speak about Man United, 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.

“I always question myself. Yes, of course, Man United is attractive but am I happy here? The answer was yes.”

If you’re an Arsenal fan doubting Wenger, at least comfort yourself with his answer. You can’t exactly fault his admiration for Arsenal as a club even if results are on the wane.


In the end, of course, Ferguson stayed on as United manager and was able to harvest six more Premier League titles, the Champions League in 2008 and a assortment of domestic titles.

Meanwhile, beyond the Invincibles, Wenger can simply cite FA Cups and Community Shields. As far as trophies are concerned, United might have been the way forward, Arsene.

How do you think Wenger would have fared as Manchester United manager? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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