Arsene Wenger has revealed he was once offered the Manchester United job – and the chance to sign Pep Guardiola at Arsenal.
He also says he is ready to return to Arsenal “one day”, having not set foot in Emirates Stadium since leaving two years ago.
Wenger, 70, stepped down in May 2018 after helping the Gunners win three Premier League titles and seven FA Cups during his 22 years in charge.
The Gunners legend is now working as FIFA’s Head of Global Development, with a managerial career spanning four decades to reflect on.
Towards the end of his Arsenal tenure and since his exit, Wenger was linked with a return to France to take over at Paris Saint-Germain, but it wasn’t the only high-profile job he turned down.
“I was offered that job (PSG) a few times,” Wenger said in a lengthy interview with The Times.
He also confirmed he had the chance to take over at Old Trafford – but he wouldn’t reveal when.
“I don’t tell you that,” Wenger said. “But I can tell you Man Utd offered me the job.”
“Ah, we had some good battles,” he added on former adversary Sir Alex Ferguson. “He’s an intelligent man. You don’t have a career like this guy if you’re stupid.”
Wenger never took up residence in Manchester but one man who did was City boss Guardiola. Had things worked out differently, he might have joined Wenger in north London during his playing days.
“When Guardiola was still a player, he came to my home to ask to play for Arsenal,” Wenger said. “At the time I had [Patrick] Vieira. I had Gilberto Silva. I couldn’t take him.”
While Guardiola never got the chance to be Wenger’s protege, City starlet Phil Foden is now developing under the Catalan at the Etihad.
Wenger says he watched Foden in England’s recent 1-0 victory over Iceland, and he wants to see him given more opportunities despite a turgid game.
“It was bad. I’ve seen so many good players not doing well for England. They’re scared to play.
“Phil Foden is a guy with big quality, but at the moment he has not made it. He hasn’t played enough at Manchester City. You need about 100 games to know your job in the Premier League.
“I follow every English game on television. It’s my league. You don’t need to come from a special school to know Bayern Munich will win the championship in Germany, that Juventus will win it in Italy, that PSG will win it in France.
“England is still the most unpredictable league in Europe, even if last year was not a good year and English teams didn’t do well in Europe.”
Meanwhile, Wenger says he is ready to return to the club “one day”.
He has been invited back since, but says it was best to “cut completely” from the club after his departure.
“I thought it’s better to follow from a distance,” he told The Times.
Wenger says his exit from Arsenal was a “very lonely, very painful” separation and he currently has “no connection at all with the club”.
That is in contrast to another of the Premier League’s long-serving managers, Sir Alex Ferguson, who was offered a seat on the Manchester United board when he retired from management in 2013.
Wenger said he did not know why he had not been offered a role with the north London club, but would have accepted it had he been given the opportunity.
“I always said I would still play a part in the club, but I could understand that at the start it’s better that we take a complete distance,” he said.
Wenger previously stated he wanted to return to management in early 2019, but instead took up a role as FIFA’s job in November of that year.
Having spent some time away from the dugout, he now admits he’s “not sure” if he will manage a club again,
“For 40 years I did only that every day in my life,” he said. “[Now I am] Making some sport. Visiting my family and friends. Holidays. Reading a lot. Enjoying life but in a sensible way, because I’m a little bit drilled by 30, 40 years of discipline, you know?”
Balogun to critics: You can’t criticise me for not trying
Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has defended his commitment to the Nigeria national side after recent criticisms directed at him over his performances.
The Rangers Glasgow’s defender has come under scathing criticisms following the country’s defeat to Central African Republic during their 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos last Thursday.
The centre-back was held responsible for the late goal conceded against the minnows following a mix-up with his defensive partner William Troost-Ekong, allowing CAR forward Karl Namnganda through on goal before slotting past Francis Uzoho, in goal for the Eagles.
However, the 33-year-old redeemed himself by scoring against CAR in the second game of the double-header clash in Douala, Cameroon – his first strike for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2014.
In an interview with ESPN, the centre-back said he had always given 100 per cent for Nigeria.
You’ve seen me play for a few years now. And you know that when I step onto the pitch I always give 100 per cent and I am always passionate,” Balogun said.
“Whether I am having a good performance or a bad performance, you can never actually criticise me for not trying. That is what I always give, that is the least I can do.”
2022 WCQ: Super Eagles Beat CAR In Douala To Maintain Group C Lead
Nigeria’ Super Eagles defeated their Central African Republic counterparts 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier decided at the Stade Japoma de Douala in Cameroon.
First half goals from Leon Balogun and Victor Osimhen ensure that the three-times African champions picked maximum three points away after losing at home to CAR in the first leg match last Thursday in Lagos.
The result sees the Super Eagles five points ahead of CAR and Cape Verde, while Liberia are bottom of the log with just the three points after three matchdays.
Lagos SWAN berates Iheanacho over unruly behaviour
The Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos Chapter, on Saturday berated Super Eagles’ striker, Kelechi Iheanacho over his disrespect to a journalist, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM, during an encounter in Lagos.
Iheanacho’s attitude, according to a statement by Lagos SWAN’s Chairman, Debo Oshundun, was unsportsmanlike.
“The attention of SWAN Lagos Chapter has been drawn to Super Eagles’ striker Kelechi Iheanacho’s disrespect to one of our members, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM.
“Oyedele, according to our findings, was arrogantly shoved off by the Leicester City forward while the reporter was making an attempt to interview him after the team’s training on Tuesday.
“Lagos SWAN frowns at this embarrassing act and disrespect to a journalist.
“Oyedele, a professional in the practice, doesn’t deserve such ill treatment from Iheanacho or any national team player,” he said.
Oshundun added “We urge the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to as a matter of urgency call the player to order.
“It is also not out place for the football house to educate the players on etIquette and relationship with the men of the fourth estate of the realm and fans alike.
“Such measures if put in place would prevent future occurrence.
“The Super Eagles take a prime place in every Nigerian journalists’ hearts and treatment such as this can only discourage reporters from doing more and giving their best for the course of our darling national team.
“We wish the senior national team and Iheanacho the best of luck in their reverse 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture against Central Africa Republic on Sunday,” he said. (NAN)
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