Arsene Wenger has insisted that he does not regret taking the opportunity to manage Manchester United when the job was offered to him back in 2001.
The Frenchman met with the then United chairman, Martin Edwards, and was the Red Devils’ preferred choice to replace Sir Alex Ferguson, but turned the down offer, opting instead to remain at Arsenal.
Wenger met with the United chairman on a number of occasions during that period and despite showing ‘a little bit of interest’ according to Edwards, he ultimately remained loyal to the Gunners. Ferguson delayed his retirement and spent another 12 years in charge, eventually leaving the club at the end of the 2012/13 season.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference ahead of Sunday’s visit to Old Trafford on Friday, Wenger said: “No, Arsenal is the love of my life. I’ve turned many, many clubs down to stay here. I’ve had the challenge of moving to the stadium here. It’s just the way I feel in my life.
“Yes, I speak to everyone and yes I met Martin Edwards. Many people came to see me in my home but I was always loyal to this club.”
Wenger takes his Arsenal side to Old Trafford to play Manchester United for the final time on Sunday, and has had a number of memorable moments at the Theatre of Dreams during his 22-year tenure at Arsenal.
Wenger’s visits to Old Trafford are often eventful and there has been plenty of controversy over the years. It has been the site of incredible triumph, winning the Premier League title but also despair – enduring some embarrassing defeats.
United – Arsenal is the defining rivalry of the early Premier League era. However, despite those classic battles, Wenger admitted that he is still hoping to get a good reception from the Old Trafford faithful on Sunday.
He quipped: “I got always a very good reception! I don’t know what kind of reception I will get. I will be focused on winning the game. There have been some great battles in 22 years. We will have to recover from this result. If I get a good reception I will take it.”