Former Manchester United chairman, Martin Edwards, has revealed that Arsene Wenger was the club’s first choice for replacing Sir Alex Ferguson when he first planned to retire in 2002.
Wenger even met with Edwards and Peter Kenyon on several occasions to discuss the possibility of becoming the United manager but in the end stayed loyal to Arsenal.
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. 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.