By Richard Clarke

Arsène Wenger admits that Bruce Rioch was probably the better candidate when he missed out on the Arsenal job in the summer of 1995.

The Frenchman was interviewed to take over from Stewart Houston, who had been in caretaker-charge since the departure of George Graham the previous February. However the Board decided to give the position to Rioch, who had built-up a solid CV at Bolton Wanderers.

However the Scot would only last a season and, after a spell in Japan at Grampus Eight, Wenger returned to take over the reins at Highbury on October 1, 1996.

On Thursday, the 13th anniversary of his first day in charge, Wenger becomes Arsenal’s longest-serving manager. But he remembers his initial rejection.

"I believe they had already made up their mind when they interviewed me the first time,” he said. “They gave the job to Bruce Rioch and maybe he was a better candidate than I was at the time.

"I went to Japan and I was not disappointed at all because I had a fantastic time there. I decided to only come back to Europe for a big club.

"But I still had good relations with Arsenal, I was friends with the Board, so I had no problem with that. I understood their position at the time.”

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29 Sep 2009