Tony Adams has revealed, in an in-depth interview with the Independent, that he turned down moves to Manchester United twice in his career, and that the club’s ambition of the time was enough to persuade him.
Speaking about his future plans and coaching, the former Gunners captain had strong words for the current set-up at Arsenal, saying they are a million miles away from competing for trophies.
When the subject came up of previous skipper Robin van Persie’s summer move to rivals Manchester United, Adams said the club could have done more to keep the Dutchman happy at the Emirates – if they’d built a team around him to make a serious challenge for titles.
“I thought they should have retained him. With 18 months on his deal to go you say to Robin, ‘There’s a five-year contract, bang, I’m going to build a team around you’. Robin would have snapped their hands off. It would have doubled his wages at that time. He questioned their ambition and kept questioning them and they kept selling.
“In 1991, Bryan Robson came up to me at an England get-together and said, ‘£90,000-a-year to join United’. I said, ‘I’m a London lad, I’m happy’. I turned down a pay rise of 15 grand, which was an absolute fortune in those days. In 1996 Alex Ferguson came knocking again.
“In 1996, I had just sobered up. I had a meeting with David Dein and Ken Friar and said, ‘What are we doing [at Arsenal]?’ They said, ‘We’re going for it. Danny Fiszman has invested £50m.’ We bought David Platt, Dennis Bergkamp; then Arsène came in, then the French guys and I got the best contract of my career. It went from £300,000 up to £1m and I thought, ‘Oh my god, I’ll stay! We’re going to try to win the league.’”
While it seems fashionable now for former players to hit out at the club – especially ones who, if you read the full interview, you can see are bitter about not getting coaching roles – it has to be said you can see where Adams is coming from. He stuck around for a long time in some poor Arsenal teams, but was shown that the club were trying to move forward. Having had such a successful career with Arsenal, he knows things aren’t really up to scratch at the moment.
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