Arsene Wenger says Sam Allardyce had no choice but to quit his job as England manager as the allegations about his willingness to bend the FA’s rules on transfers would have dogged him every time he faced the press.
The Frenchman, who has regularly been linked with the vacant position during his 20 years in England, also reiterated his long-term belief that the Three Lions should be coached by an Englishman.
Speaking to beIN Sports, the 66-year-old reflected on a turbulent month for the FA and touched on why his priority has always been Arsenal.
“It [his position] was untenable. If he’d stayed in charge I think every press conference, every time England prepares for a game the subject would have come up again. I think Sam Allardyce himself acknowledged that he made a mistake and that it would be difficult to stay.
“No [I have not been contacted about the England job]. No, not really [I don’t want to add anything]. Personally, I want England to do well and I think it was a story that was a shock for me.
“I thought Sam Allardyce had the right level of experience and authority to do well with England. I think Roy Hodgson was a bit unlucky in the last two tournaments. And at some stage a guy of experience like Sam Allardyce could have helped to push that [team] through and to get a good tournament.”
He added: “It’s very important [that England has an English manager], I always said that. A country like England has a huge football passion. And as well, the structure of the national team looks to me that it demands a guy from your own nation is the leader.
“If you think that tomorrow you’re coach of France and you play against England and the national anthem is played of England, you cannot sing it, and you cannot sing the anthem as well of the team you’re leading…it looks to me a bit strange, you know? I like what is logical. I think it’s better [to have an Englishman in charge].”
Asked how close he’s come in the past to taking the England job, Wenger revealed:
“It’s quite simple, my first priority was always Arsenal. The second thing i would have considered was to stay in England.
“It would be difficult for me to manage another English team so the second possibility would have been England, but my priority was always my club.”
Gareth Southgate will manage England on an interim basis for the next four games, stepping up from his duties with the under-21s. Having turned down the chance to interview for the position after the European Championship, the former Middlesbrough and Aston Villa defender could now inherit the role on a full time basis should he impress in the coming months.
“I think he has the intelligence, he has the knowledge, he is now for quite a long time at the federation. I believe individually, as a man, he has the qualities to do well.
“One thing I forgot when I speak about English football, during the tournaments the pressure on the team is absolutely massive. Sometimes it looks as though they auto-destroy a little bit themselves. I always felt during the tournaments that the pressure around the players was absolutely too big.”