02 Dec FA Confidential
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refused to say if he was offered the England manager’s job before Gareth Southgate’s appointment.
The Frenchman had been a front-runner when Roy Hodgson left the role following a poor Euro 2016 campaign, but it was Sam Allardyce who was appointed.
Allardyce lasted just one game, however, and Southgate has now been unveiled as his successor on a permanent basis following a four-game interim stint.
Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn said in September that Wenger would “fit the criteria perfectly” when asked about the possibility of the Gunners boss being appointed.
But the FA opted for Southgate, having not interviewed anyone else for the position, and, when asked if he had been approached for the job, Wenger remained tight-lipped.
“Look, I need to keep confidential my conversations with the FA,” he said.
“I speak always with the FA, because I am a long time in English football, so when things go on, sometimes they contact me, yes.”
Wenger said Southgate’s permanent appointment came as no surprise to him, but he did admit in September following Allardyce’s dismissal that he could one day be tempted to take charge of the Three Lions.
“I rule nothing out,” he said at the time.
“My focus is here (Arsenal) but one day why not? I’m not English, I am French. I feel French as well.
“But of course you do not spend 20 years in a country without identifying or getting used to some values or behaviours of the local culture.
“I still think that (an Englishman should manage England). The priority is for an Englishman to manage England because it would always be a bit bizarre if I manage England and play against France.”
Southgate was appointed on Wednesday and was given a four-year contract, having stepped up from his role as manager of the under-21s.
And Wenger had already offered his backing to the ex-Middlesbrough boss before confirmation of his appointment.
“Yes, Gareth Southgate is the right man for the job,” he said last month.
“There is always demand for the big names but what is most important is the competence of the person.”