Wenger ‘fits the criteria perfectly,’ says FA chairman

Date published: Saturday 1st October 2016 11:16

Arsene Wenger: Fits the criteria

Arsene Wenger is among the candidates who “perfectly” fit the criteria to become England manager, Football Association chief executive Martin Glenn has said.

Just months after fully assessing a wretched Euro 2016, undertaking a general review of the Three Lions’ recent tournament displays and finding a suitable replacement for Roy Hodgson, the FA’s international set-up is once again in a state of flux.

The Daily Telegraph’s secretly-filmed footage of Sam Allardyce making a variety of controversial comments saw the manager leave the post after one match and a mere 67 days.

England Under-21 boss Gareth Southgate has been placed in interim charge for the remaining four matches of 2016, giving Glenn, FA chairman Greg Clarke and technical director Dan Ashworth the chance to take their time when recruiting a full-time successor.

Glenn says Premier League experience is “preferable” but that the FA is not “wedded to the fact he has to be English”, while he underlined that most successful international managers are in their sixties.

Long-serving Arsenal manager Wenger, 66, is out of contract in the summer and would fit the bill, and he even said on Friday: “If I am free one day, why not?”

Glenn was keen not to talk about external possibilities.

However, when asked if the Gunners boss could be using the situation for his own ends, Glenn offered a brief glimpse into the governing body’s thoughts on the Frenchman.

“I am not commenting on that,” he said. “Of course he’d fit the criteria perfectly. Of course he would, as would a few others.”

Wenger is currently third favourite with the bookmakers, behind surprising contender Ralf Rangnick, currently director of sport at Leipzig, and overriding favourite Southgate.

The England Under-21 boss had not been interested in succeeding Hodgson during the summer, but Glenn believes things are different as he approaches his temporary spell with increased confidence.

Martin Glenn

“I think he is a genuine contender, but this isn’t an audition,” the chief executive said of Southgate.

“I’m delighted with the four games because it gives us preparation time, time to think and him the time to really get into it.

“He has a choice to make at the end of that whether he really wants to throw his hat into the ring, but he wouldn’t be the sole candidate.”

Glenn suggested that Southgate – in a similar way to Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe or perhaps even Hodgson’s assistant Gary Neville – would not necessarily be held back by a relative lack of experience.

He added: “I think what you have in the England job is probably the same as British politics.

“Typically our politicians are under more scrutiny than perhaps people in different countries and we expect a slightly higher standard.

“I think most people in football absolutely get it, are absolutely decent, and that won’t be a problem.

“We are not looking for a saint, we are looking for someone who is great at winning matches, can motivate a team, can make us a far better competitor.

“That doesn’t require a saint but it does require someone who understand they are a role model as well.”

The FA may or may not pursue Wenger, but the Frenchman himself stressed he feels like England is home.

Asked if he feels English or French, Wenger said: “I don’t know any more. I think a big part when I come back to London, I come back to home.”

Wenger did say he felt it would be “bizarre” to think of a time when he led an England side out against his native France, even if he has picked up English values over the last two decades.

“I know God Save the Queen,” he said.

“But I still think that, yes. The priority is for an Englishman to manage England. Because it looked always a bit bizarre if I manage England and play against France.

“I cannot sing the French national anthem and not the English one. It looks strange, especially in big countries.

“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.”

Wenger was asked whether he would be interested in the England job at some point in the future.

“Right now my priority is to do well here (at Arsenal),” he added.

“This has always been my club and if I am free one day, why not? I’m focused on my job right now.

“I do not want to give you some fruit for speculation. I am completely committed for the immediate (future). The priority is this club and what we want to achieve together until the end of the season.”

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