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Wenger reveals Man U job offer and why Arsenal rejected Guardiola …says ‘I’ll return to Arsenal one day

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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?”

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Ronaldo Misses Portugal Training Ahead Of South Korea Clash

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo did not train with his Portugal teammates on Wednesday ahead of their final World Cup group game against South Korea.

The Portuguese striker, 37, was doing “specific recovery work” according to a source from the Portuguese football federation.

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Ronaldo, without a club since leaving Manchester United during the tournament, scored a penalty in his country’s opening win over Ghana.

Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0 in their second match to qualify for the last 16, with Ronaldo appearing to claim a goal but he did not touch the ball and it was awarded to teammate Bruno Fernandes.

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Mexico exit World Cup despite beating Saudi Arabia

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Mexico suffered an agonising exit from the World Cup on goal difference on Wednesday despite beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a dramatic finale to Group C.

Second-half goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez secured victory for Mexico but they finished third behind Poland after Salem Al-Dawsari’s late strike.

Mexico desperately pushed for a third goal in an effort to improve their goal difference as they faced elimination on FIFA fair play rules.

Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina in their opening match was one of the World Cup’s great upsets, but they crashed back down to earth with a 2-0 loss to Poland in their second game.

Coach Herve Renard urged his players to show that was no flash in the pan and write themselves into Saudi football history by reaching knockout rounds for the first time since 1994.

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Having failed to win either of their first two group games for the first time in 44 years, Mexico knew victory was essential if they were to stand a chance of reaching the last 16 at an eighth successive World Cup.

Mexico boss Gerardo Martino ditched the back five he used in the 2-0 loss to Argentina and brought in Martin to lead the attack.

It almost reaped immediate rewards but Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais raced out to block Alexis Vega after he was slipped in behind the defence by Hirving Lozano.

Al-Owais, one of the heroes of the 2-1 win over Argentina, tentatively palmed away a bouncing cross ahead of a lunging Martin and held weak attempts by Chavez and Orbelin Pineda.

Mohamed Kanno whipped a free-kick just over for Saudi Arabia, who saw defender Ali Al-Bulayhi forced off with injury — adding to their mounting casualty list.

Mexico continued to attack without success and Ali Al-Hassan nearly sent the bulk of the largely Saudi crowd wild late in the first half with a diving header that flashed wide of the far post.

Chavez tested Al-Owais right after the interval and Martin soon broke the deadlock as he turned in from close range following Cesar Montes’ clever flick-on at a corner.

Mexico’s second goal arrived just five minutes later when Chavez sensationally curled a free-kick into the top corner from 30 metres.

Keeping an eye on the score between Argentina and Poland, Mexico pushed relentlessly for a third goal, with Lozano’s effort ruled out for a tight offside.

Martin blazed over when he had a glorious chance and Chavez had another free-kick turned away by Al-Owais, who also sprawled to his right to claw out a drive from Lozano.

Uriel Antuna then had another goal disallowed for offside before Al-Dawsari’s late strike put an end to the drama.

AFP

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Argentina beat Poland 2-0, advance to last 16

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Lionel Messi had a penalty saved but Argentina still advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup as Group C winners after a 2-0 victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Poland also went through as runners-up although a 2-1 win for Mexico over Saudi Arabia in the group’s other game meant Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side advanced only on goal difference.

Alexis Mac Allister’s 46th-minute goal settled Argentina’s nerves after a tense first half, before Julian Alvarez doubled their lead just over 20 minutes later.

Argentina had been unable to find a way past Wojciech Szczesny in an opening 45 minutes in which the Poland goalkeeper saved his second penalty of the tournament.

Szczesny was adjudged to have fouled Messi while stretching to reach a cross, but he dived to his left to beat away the resulting spot-kick.

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It was the 31st penalty Messi had failed to convert in his career.

Poland offered little attacking threat, with star striker Robert Lewandowski virtually anonymous throughout.

Instead it was left to Szczesny to take centre stage for the Poles, denying Messi with two crucial early stops.

First Messi wriggled clear of a pack of defenders before producing a shot that flew straight at the keeper.

Then he found space to charge into the Polish box down the left, forcing Szczesny to make a save at his near post.

Argentina continued to create the better chances in the first half and Marcos Acuna flashed a shot wide after Alvarez had also gone close to breaking the deadlock.

Szczesny had to scramble to stop Angel di Maria scoring direct from a corner, before the goalkeeper was again called into action to deny Alvarez.

– Penalty save –
Szczesny outdid himself when he dived to his left to stop Messi’s penalty in the 39th minute.

He still had more to do before the half-time whistle, punching away a shot from Alvarez before saving the follow-up from Rodrigo de Paul.

There was nothing he could do when Mac Allister broke the deadlock less than a minute after the interval.

Nahuel Molina charged down the right, then cut the ball back for Mac Allister to drill just beyond Szczesny’s reach.

The goal forced Poland to show some belated attacking ambition and Kamil Glik headed just wide from a free-kick almost immediately after the restart.

Argentina continued to go in search of more goals and Alvarez scored their second after combining well with Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez, making his first start for Argentina, picked out his team-mate, who held off a defender before lashing the ball past Szczesny.

Poland were still walking a tightrope with yellow cards potentially crucial to their chances of reaching the last 16.

Grzegorz Krychowiak went into the book in the 83rd minute but a late goal for Saudi Arabia against Mexico saw the Poles safely through on goal difference.

AFP

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