Wenger coy over Eng­land links

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SPORTS -

ARSENAL man­ager Arsene Wenger has re­fused to com­pletely rule out ac­cept­ing a po­ten­tial of­fer to take charge of Eng­land at the end of the sea­son. Wenger has been linked with the Eng­land job fol­low­ing the Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion’s de­ci­sion to part com­pany with Sam Al­lardyce on Tues­day.

Quizzed on pos­si­ble Eng­land in­ter­est af­ter Wed­nes­day’s 2-0 Champions League win over Basel, Wenger stopped short of con­firm­ing he would snub an FA ap­proach.

Al­lardyce’s self-in­flicted exit af­ter his con­tro­ver­sial com­ments to un­der­cover re­porters has left the FA search­ing for a new boss and they have ap­pointed Eng­land Un­der-21 coach Gareth South­gate as in­terim man­ager to buy them time.

South­gate will pick the team for Eng­land’s re­main­ing four matches this year and could be per­suaded to re­main in charge un­til the end of the sea­son if there was a chance to hire a top-class boss like Wenger.

Wenger, who is this week cel­e­brat­ing 20 years with the Gun­ners, un­der­lined his com­mit­ment to Arsenal, but also said his future was only tied to the north Lon­don­ers un­til the end of the sea­son.

Asked if he was flat­tered to be linked with the job, Wenger said: “Of course, but my pri­or­ity has al­ways been this club and un­til the end of this sea­son I am here. I’m com­pletely fo­cused on this club. Noth­ing will change on that. It (Al­lardyce leav­ing) was a huge sur­prise. Who could have pre­dicted that 48 hours ago? No­body…”

Wenger tra­di­tion­ally op­er­ates on a year-to-year ba­sis these days and only de­cides whether he wants to con­tinue as Arsenal’s man­ager late in each sea­son.

That ap­proach gives a lit­tle hope to the FA if they make Wenger their top target and he an­swered with a nod and a smile when asked if he knew the words to the English na­tional an­them.

But for now the French­man, who years ago re­vealed he had once re­jected an of­fer to man­age Eng­land, is fully fo­cused on main­tain­ing Arsenal’s en­cour­ag­ing progress af­ter they ex­tended their un­beaten run to eight games.

“That is not de­cided,” Wenger said of his long-term plans.

“I said my pri­or­ity was al­ways Arsenal foot­ball club. I have to de­cide how well I do un­til the end of the sea­son.” – AFP

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