EXCLUSIVE | By Arsenal correspondent Tony Hughes
Football Insider sources have learned that English football’s governing body made contact to check on Wenger’s availability around April 2014, two months before the national team’s disastrous World Cup campaign.
The FA’s ambitious move was quickly rebuffed by both Arsenal and Wenger himself. The Frenchman’s contract was due to expire at the end of the 2013-14 season but he signed a three-year extension after steering the Gunners to FA Cup glory in May, the club’s first trophy in nine years.
The FA’s interest in swooping for Wenger throws a new light on the depth of their support for current England manager Roy Hodgson, who is preparing the team for Tuesday night’s friendly against Italy.
Although the ruling body were checking on Wenger with a view to the Frenchman taking over after last summer’s World Cup, it is telling that they were investigating a back-up option to Hodgson.
The 67-year-old incumbent’s deal runs until 2016 and FA chairman Greg Dyke made it clear last week that there will be no talks over a new contract until after next summer’s European Championships. “We have not talked about contracts yet,” said Dyke. We will have the discussion about contracts in the next nine months to a year”.
England are top of a weak group in Euro 2016 qualifying and seem almost certain to qualify for the tournament but Hodgson’s future will be assessed on England’s performances at the major tournaments.
England exited Euro 2012 at the first knockout stage and failed to make it out of the group stage at the 2014 World Cup.