Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has admitted that England was wrong to have sacked Sam Allardyce as its national team coach. The Gunners boss said it was unfair because his nemesis got a raw task with the appointment.
Wenger, 69, was considered the right man to lead The Three Lions but he backed out in the last minute for Allardyce, a former Bolton Wanderers coach and now Crystal Palace manager.
Both coaches have never been the best of friends until recently.
Notwithstanding the rivalries that come with English football, Wenger and Allardyce have patched up their relationship. And the new friends are set to battle each other on Sunday 1 January, 2017.
That was then.
This is now.
Wenger, who has been Arsenal manager since 1996, swung on the the side of his fellow manager after an undercover reporter exposed Big Sam’s involvement in some shady transfer deals.
In September 2016, an unidentified reporter with Daily Telegraph posed as a businessman who was interested in offering bribes to help his team cheat FA’s third party ownership rules. Allardyce was alleged to have given consent to an initial deposit of £400,000 for a contract though he denied being aware of the recorded transaction.
The football governing body launched investigations into the bribery allegations, and the former West Ham coach resigned as England manager after both parties [England FA and Allardyce] reached a mutual agreement in late September.
The Gunners boss said: “It was the same with Sven Eriksson. You do not know how serious it was.
“A guy can joke. It’s very difficult to assess that situation. Overall I find the whole process tricky and unfair.” Wenger argued about the corruptions charges leveled against Allardyce and his son Craig.
When asked about his relationship with the Crystal Palace boss, Wenger said it evolved naturally.
In his words: “How did my relationship with him change? Slowly. Slowly. There is no obvious reason.
“Everybody was happy to get a result over me, I can understand that.
“You have to analyse the Premier League a bit regionally at the time. Before you had Bolton, Manchester up there and it was a little….,” he paused for a moment after noting that Big Sam and Sir Alex Ferguson were among the top four coaches a few years back.
Due to racism against a Frenchman, as Wenger claimed, he was not considered a worthy friend among his British rivals a few years ago.
“I always was just focused, I never had any problem with that.
“Over 20 years it has changed. I was isolated as a foreign manager at the start. It’s not the case any more.”
Arsene Wenger is considered the Premier League’s most successful coach in terms of major trophies won, and he’s Arsenal’s longest-serving coach in the club’s history.