Arsenal are facing a fight to keep Arsene Wenger at the club with the Football Association preparing to launch a charm offensive to convince him to take the England job.
According to The Telegraph, Wenger was the top choice amongst FA chiefs when searching for Roy Hodgson's successor. However, the Frenchman told them he was not prepared to break his contract with the Gunners, which expires at the end of the current season.
That appeared the end discussions before they began in earnest; the FA were not prepared to wait almost a year for their next permanent manager, ultimately leading them to Sam Allardyce.
Allardyce has since become the shortest-reigning permanent England manager in history after losing his job on Tuesday following a sting operation by the same newspaper. The 61-year-old was filmed by reporters posing as businessmen hoping to profit from the Premier League transfer market.
He accepted a £400,000 fee to advise the men on how to circumnavigate FA rules, which he described as "ridiculous". The former Sunderland manager met with his superiors and a mutual termination of his £3m-a-year contract was agreed.
Prepared to wait
The unprecedented situation is now threatening to give Arsenal owner Stan Kroenke something to worry about. The sports tycoon was hoping to tie Wenger down to an extended contract in the near future but now faces a fight with the FA.
For one, the FA are willing to change their stance and are prepared to wait until the end of the Premier League campaign if Wenger agrees to take charge. The situation is helped by the fact that Gareth Southgate will take charge of England's next four matches.
If Wenger does agree to become England's next manager, it would mean Southgate would only have to manage one extra game, a World Cup qualifier against Lithuania on March 26. Theoretically, Wenger's first match in charge would then be against Scotland on June 10.
Not ruling it out
The 66-year-old has faced questions from fans and critics over the efficacy of his management with a small section of the Emirates crowd partaking in protests against his continued reign last season.
A good start to the season has silenced his critics for the time being but failure to win silverware would only increase pressure. The chance to manage England would be the perfect escape route and an excellent way to finish his managerial career. Perhaps that is why he has never ruled it out.
Speaking in the summer, he said: “Could I manage England? Why not? I would never rule that out, but I am happy and focussed in club football.
“England is my second country. I was absolutely on my knees when England went out against Iceland. I couldn’t believe it.”
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