Football

Arsène Wenger says England post could be a possibility

Reuters/Dylan Martinez

Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger admitted on Friday for the first time he would manage the senior England football squad if he had no club commitments. 

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Wenger, 66, has been linked with the England job following Tuesday's departure of Sam Allardyce.

The 61-year-old left the post by mutual consent with the England football Association after undercover newspaper reporters exposed his controversial comments about his employers and their rules governing the ownership of players.

While the FA hunts for a new man - just 67 days after the appointment of Allardyce - the England Under-21 coach Gareth Southgate has been drafted in as interim manager.

Southgate's credentials will come under immediate scrutiny. England take on Malta next Saturday at Wembley for their second 2018 World Cup qualifier. England, under Allardyce, won their opening game in Slovakia 1-0.

The victory against a 10-man side was prosaic and the win was only secured in second-half stoppage time. The chance to employ an avowed purist such as Wenger would be a dream opportunity.

The Frenchman's contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the 2016-17 campaign and there has been no confirmation as to whether he will sign a new deal with the north Londoners.

When asked about the England job at a press conference ahead of Arsenal's match at Burnley, Wenger said: "My priority is to do well here. If I am free one day, why not?"

The Bournemouth manager Eddie Howe was linked with the England post before Allardyce's appointment.

Generally regarded as one of the most promising young English coaches, the 38-year-old said he would not welcome the pressure and media commitments of the post.

"I don't enjoy it," he said. "For me the reason I wanted to be a football manager was to coach, to build a team, try to win games, have that competition against other teams and inspire players to reach levels they never knew they could hit.

"All of the media side of things gets in the way. My main focus is always the football.

The speculation about the England job has been an unwelcome thing. It wasn't something I wanted to see at all."

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