Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that he had rejected Manchester United when the club came calling in 2001 to replace Sir Alex Ferguson. The Red Devils were the reigning league Champions and the Frenchman was earmarked to take over when Ferguson announced that he would be retiring at the end of the 2001-02 season, a decision which was eventually reversed.
United chairman at the time, Martin Edwards, was determined to complete the move, as disclosed in his autobiography. Wenger was vindicated by his decision, as the Gunners went on to lift the double in 2002 and then carried on to win the title two years later by going an entire season unbeaten.
"You should ask him," Wenger said of Edwards, as quoted by the Guardian when asked if they had ever come together to discuss a move. "I am always very confidential. One day maybe I will get all the contacts I had during my stay at Arsenal and it would make a few chapters. You should ask Martin Edwards."
However, when pressed about why he would reject the most successful club in the history of English football, Wenger stated that he had fallen in love with the values at Arsenal, something he rates very highly. The manager has won three league titles in his 20 years at the club along with seven FA Cups, but has failed to win or properly challenge for the title in the last 13 years.
"Because I love the values of this club and, for me, a club is about values first," he said. "One day it would be a good chat to have with the press to look at the evolution. You speak about Manchester United, and the evolution in the last 20 years would be very interesting. A lot has changed but when I came here this club was about values that I love in sport. That is why I am still in the competition.
"So I always question myself. Yes, of course, Manchester United is attractive but am I happy here? The answer was yes."