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27th Apr 2018

Arsene Wenger explains why he rejected Man United’s offer to replace Sir Alex Ferguson

How different things could have been...

Simon Lloyd

Arsene Wenger takes Arsenal to Old Trafford this weekend, the scene of some of his most memorable moments as the north London club’s manager.

Having announced that he will step down from his position at the end of the current campaign, the 68-year-old has now explained why he turned down an offer from Manchester United  to replace Sir Alex Ferguson.

With Ferguson set to retire at the end of the 2000/2001 campaign, Wenger was approached by United’s chairman Martin Edwards and deputy chief executive Peter Kenyon with a view to him replacing his great rival.

Speaking after Arsenal’s disappointing Europa League semi-final first leg against Atletico Madrid on Thursday night, the Frenchman said that his loyalty to Arsenal meant he knocked back the offer from United – and several approaches from other clubs.

“Arsenal is the love of my life,” he explained. “I turned many, many, many jobs down to stay here and face the challenge when we built the stadium.”

“I speak to everybody. I met Martin Edwards. Many people came to see me in my home. But I was always, I think, loyal to this club.”

As it went, Ferguson postponed his retirement, eventually bowing out in 2013 after making United the most successful club in English football and adding a third European Cup to their trophy cabinet.

Wenger went on to win the Premier League twice more, memorably seeing his team navigate their way through the 2003/2004 league campaign without losing a single game.

Recent years have been more challenging for Wenger, however. Having missed out on Champions League qualification last year, Arsenal’s hopes of returning to the competition rest on success in the Europa League. Despite playing against 10 men for the majority of their first leg with Atleti and dominating the chances created, a late Antoine Griezmann goal means the Spanish side have the advantage ahead of the return in Madrid.