Various news reports claiming that Arsene Wenger, the former Arsenal boss, is interested in taking up the United job and would like to succeed Solskjaer on the Old Trafford hot seat.
These rumours has arised from comments the Frenchman made in a recent interview. But, before jumping to any conclusions regarding his interview, let us look back to his previous rivalry with United and the then United boss, Sir Alex Ferguson.
There were so many titanic struggles between Wenger’s stylish Arsenal and Ferguson’s fiery United during the 90’s, the clashes were, at the time, modern day classics.
To say there was a feeling is putting it mildly, it was more than a game of football, it was claim to the right to be regarded the best in the Premier League without a title.
Arsene Wenger received praise from every quarter after his arrival and subsequent successes and Ferguson’s was livid.
He became infuriated by the lavish comments and the pedestal Arsenal had been placed on, so much so, he impressed upon his side that every ball would have to be contested with the ultimate commitment and that the opposition had a soft belly.
Arsene Wenger could barely hide his contempt for United, especially when they were overly physical. Ferguson could hardly disguise his jealousy for a play that was well beyond his collection of players.
United’s success was built on Ferguson’s philosophy of hard work and togetherness. It relied on tactics and the ability to apply endless pressure. On the other hand, Arsene Wenger encouraged freedom of expression and wanted style over all other considerations.
If Wenger was Ying, Ferguson was Yang.
These contests often resulted in a battle of desire verses artistry and artistry didn’t always win.
Wenger managed to annoy Ferguson with his comment:
“Everyone thinks they have the prettiest wife”
This was a direct reference to the Scot’s criticism of how Arsenal won the double in 2002. The pair rarely spoke after that and the teams became the best of enemies.
With this as a backdrop, the suggestion that Arsene Wenger would be interested in the Manchester United post, which incidentally hasn’t got a vacancy, came as something of a surprise.
Within the Express article, he never directly confirms interest and although, Wenger says the United job “would be a dream job for any manager“, it may be another example of the playful Wenger eliciting a headline that has no foundation. The Frenchman is extremely media savvy and is no stranger to allowing the press to make mountains out of dust particles.
He said of the United’s current predicament:
“There is a team there, but it needs to be coached and developed.”
“Like I said, four players and they can be challengers. For everything.”
“Like I said, Manchester United is a dream job. For any coach.”
“I have confidence, I have courage…and you’re right, I have ideas.”
Hard to know what to make of that, he’s not directly admitting interest but he’s not distancing himself either. Quite unlike Wenger really, perhaps he has completely disconnected from the club and can now embrace a new challenge at the highest level.
Wait, would Arsene Wenger be prepared to sell his soul and take the United job if it became available ?
Only, I suppose if he was so hurt by his dismissal that he wanted to dish out revenge.
Is that Wenger ? No it isn’t.
Could he forgive himself if he beat Arsenal ? It’s unlikely.
Arsene Wenger has such an affinity with Arsenal, it’s beyond any normal manager / club relationship.
Would Wenger want the inevitable comparisons with the Ferguson era ? Sucked in to the ‘let’s prove how good I am‘ situation, that attracted the ego of Jose Mourinho.
Arsene Wenger was always Arsenal, he still is and I’m sure he would rather live in a tent on the edge of a volcano, than compromise what he achieved in his 22 years at the club. He didn’t just manage a club, he helped build it and whatever success Arsenal manage in the future, Wenger laid the foundations.
The current academy prospects that everyone is drooling over was under his watch, the majority of the infrastructure was of Wenger’s design. It’s a shadow that will take some shifting, a level of excellence that will take some eclipsing.
We’re not talking trophies, we are talking about philosophy, style, class and performance, something United have never truly possessed.
In the final evaluation, would United fans welcome Wenger into the club and how would Wenger feel about watching an Arsenal team take to the pitch whilst in the United dug out ?
Anything can happen in football, we’ve seen the unthinkable happen time and time again, but Wenger at Old Trafford would top the lot.