“I will die with the love of the game. This will be a beautiful death.” Thierry Henry

By Tony Attwood

Thierry Henry (whose quote above is at the head of an article about him in L’Equipe) has played his final game for the New York Red Bulls and with that, it seems, retired from playing professionally – unless he flies out to India to join up with Robert Pires in Goa.  Thierry is now 37, which is beyond the normal moment of calling it a day.

 Speaking via L’Equipe Thierry said, “Nothing is fixed.   I have not taken any decision and speculation is not my thing. One thing is certain: I will stay in football, as a coach, a consultant or executive. We will see.

“Secondly I would love to see Arsenal win the Champions League. Whether that is from near or far does not depend on me but it is sure I’d like to help. This is my club and, as a player, I was not able to give them the Champions League.”

The comment made by his manager in New York, Marc de Grandpre upon leaving was interesting:

“On behalf of the New York Red Bulls I would like to thank Thierry Henry for the incredible impact he has made on both our organization and the American soccer community as a whole.   He is truly one of the all-time great talents and will forever hold a special place within the organisation’s history. We wish Thierry all the best for his future.”

Thierry has been at the Bulls for four and a half years and became their second ever highest scorer.  He scored 51 in 122 games, making it 360 goals all told.

He has remained close to Arsene Wenger, and when the two of them turned up together on TV a while back there was an absolutely obvious rapport and friendship between them.

Arsene Wenger has spoken of Thierry having every ability and quality to become a coach or manager.  But he also gave a warning:

“He has to learn his job first. I have seen so many people who have the qualities to be a manager but not survive their first job because they are not ready. When you are a football player, you think it’s so simple to be a manager. When you are a manager, you think it’s so complicated suddenly and, if you’re not prepared for that, you cannot survive.   You have to learn to handle a dressing room and people.  This job is about ideas and putting them into practice. You can only do that if you have the responsibility of the team.”

As a way forwards he cited the fact that Zinadine Zidane coaches the Real Mad B side – and that would be fascinating at Arsenal – except that we have just reorganised our two academy sides following the departure of Brady.  I am not sure where he would fit in.

I think everyone who watched him must have a long list of favourite moments.  For me there’s the final game of the Invincibles season against Leicester and the way he stayed so calm when we were 1-0 down at half time.   And the goal he scored from the free kick – I think it was away to Villa – when he just said the to ref (who had not blown the whistle) “can I take it” and the ref said yes, so he slotted it in, while the Villa players were doing the usual slow retreat, claiming that five yards was ten.

Then the messing about with the penalty balls-up with Pires, and of course the final final goal for us in 2012 – a classic Henry goal.  And oh so many “Oh what an amazing goal” incidents – far too many to recount.

The bookies seem to think that Jurgen Klopp, who is not doing terribly well in Germany, is the favourite to take over when Mr Wenger leaves – that seems unlikely given that he is doing less well than the current management.  And Thierry is second favourite, which given all that has been said above, is unlikely too.   But someone noticed that Thierry’s Facebook page has the Emirates Stadium in the background, so the bookies cut the odds.

I think, however, that Arsenal has an acute sense of history, and know that employing ex-players is not a great idea – at least until they have proven themselves as managers.

If we look at Arsenal’s history with managers we can see why:

Manager As a player Managerial achievements
Herbert Chapman Very moderate (Totts) 2 League titles, 1 FAC
George Allison Shildon (North. Lge) 2 League titles, 1 FAC
Tom Whittaker Modest career with AFC 2 League titles, 1 FAC
Jack Crayston Arsenal star
George Swindin Arsenal star
Billy Wright England captain
Bertie Mee Wartime league 1 League, 1 FAC, 1 FC
Terry Neill Arsenal star 1 FA Cup
Don Howe Arsenal star
George Graham Arsenal star 2 Lge, 4 Cups
Bruce Rioch Villa, Derby, Everton
Arsene Wenger  Mulhouse 3 Lge, 5 FA Cup

The exception to the thesis that the best managers are not the top players is George Graham – as for the rest every manager from 1925 to 2014 shows the same pattern – the best managers are not the best players.

But there are exceptions to every rule, and since Thierry re-wrote the rule book on how to be a centre forward, maybe he can do it again by being a manager.  I would rather like to see it happen – at Arsenal.

But maybe not just yet.    Perhaps Arsenal could buy a struggling Conference team for him to run.

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27 Replies to ““I will die with the love of the game. This will be a beautiful death.” Thierry Henry”

  1. I will be a lonely voice on this but I am not a big fan of bringing old stars in and think they will be great managers. I’ve seen it fail too many times.
    I always shiver when I hear the name Tony Adams being mentioned in the same sentence as Arsenal manager. I really feel sorry for Tony Adams but he isn’t manager stuff. Certainly not top managers stuff.

    Of course there are exceptions. But the only way to find out if TH would be a great manager as he was a great player is to throw him in to the water. But what if he fails? How difficult would it be to throw him out? Could we allow his image to be ruined? Could we allow the good memories we have of him to be taken down if he would become our manager and not produce the goods?

    How I would like to be proven wrong and how I would love TH becoming the best ever Arsenal manager … even better than Wenger…..

    I’m wetting my pants just the thought of it… but it would be extremely sad if it wouldn’t work…. oh so sad….

  2. As usual, Arsene hits the nail on the head yet again, with advice.
    If Thierry wants to coach, he first has to learn the trade of coaching.
    No matter how good a player, if you can’t convey that ability to the players under you, you will fail.

  3. you are bang on right Walter, I to would hate to see him fail, but would love him back at the club. Perhaps he could go in at the shallow end somewhere and see if it suits him.
    One thing is certain his mentor would soon let him know if it was right for him.

  4. Its been interesting to read the press here on Klopp.Yesterday it was only concerned with him going, today he says he wont leave until they give him the boot.However Klopp himself has said, “if you only want success then you should support Bayern”.

  5. I’d hope Henry would be interested in, and see the sense of, simply hanging around the place for a while.

    Low key, few official responsibilities. Get along to a ton of youth matches, be around training as a non-player, get the badges, take some striking sessions ( hard to imagine that could fail to have very positive effects on youth players.)

    In fact his mere presence would likely have benefits among younger players, and could even swing attracting some new recruits, given the increased power of celebrity for younger people now (this amateur psychologist believes it is probably a self- esteem, ego thing- ‘I belong to this group which this absolute legend belongs to, therefore…’

    But I don’t know if he’d fancy that, and even that could cause tensions with existing staff should they feel toes are stepped on. One thing seems certain- it would be good if we could get to an Ajax situation, where numerous top class former players spend lots of time guiding the next generations.

  6. Rich,

    Maybe that is why we brought in the Dutch connection? In order to get to the Ajax situation as you describe it.

  7. @Will and Rich,
    The obtaining of the necessary coaching badges shouldn’t be belittled.
    Henry would have to properly work and study for them.
    I’m sure the badges aren’t dished out like some US degrees.

  8. Walter,

    Seems possible. Bergkamps autobiography set up an interesting divide between coaches/managers who believe the highest aim is autonomous self-directing players, and the other view which is that coaches should be masters on game-day, and players the pieces they move around. Much of it comes from Cruyff and it’s pretty understandable that he would think bold, independently-minded individuals are of the greatest benefit to a team.

    Wenger was placed firmly with Bergkamp and Cruyff in the former camp. Sounded like the work/ masterplan at Ajax is fairly unique in that they make no bones about wanting to do a massive amount of intensive work with individuals.

    Things are thrown on their head a little,though, in that Jonker is a Van Gaal man, and Van Gaal was placed in the book as the direct opposite to that Cruyff, current Ajax, and Wenger ethos.

    Yet I actually had respect for Van Gaal when I read his own book- incredibly tough, too much sometimes, but he emphasizes time and again that he is open to dialogue at all times. Where all that places us, I don’t know.

    Early yet, but one interesting snippet is that the youth coach De Kat described our thorough beating at the hands of Chelsea youth as a footballing lesson. This and a few other hints make me think we’ll be looking for more structure, discipline and organisation moving forward. Don’t think we should panic ,though, as I remain confident that our best 3 or 5 on that day will at least match what their best go on to do.

    One thing unites footballing Dutchmen it seems, they have an abiding love of intelligent players. Me too.

  9. If Henry can learn to become part of another team , the team of coaches , as a striking coach he should have no problems .Developing players like Akpom and Afobe should be his immediate target. However he would have to moderate the attitude he often displayed with players like Reyes when they did not meet his expectations.Maybe age will have mellowed him , I hope so because ex players have so much to give and letting them sit in t.v. and radio studios is a great waste..

  10. The world ‘Legend’ is so often used in describing the ordinary.

    In Thierry’s case it is an absolutely perfect fit.

    Would he be welcome back at Arsenal, you bet!!!!! And in any capacity Arsene saw fit.

  11. What makes people think he’ll make a good coach, or a striking coach??….

    He was a great player for us. Period.

    If he wants to manage Arsenal, he had to climb the ladder. No shortcuts. Should get noticed for his management abilities in other place before he can get the job here.

    Steve Bould has worked his way up to become the assistant manager. Hez doing a very good job. Why not look at him. He is an ARSENAL star too. Nothing short of a legend.

  12. Great article Tony…not that I wasn’t expecting one from UA of this topic 😉

    IMHO, just as AW transformed and cultured the potential he saw in the young Henry and made him into one of the worlds best strikers (even though that was not his position). Not being a manager of any sort (Henry) will be taken over by the same man AW who will transform and culture him once again into his next big step!

  13. @Walter; yes people do from time to time come out to say Tony Adams could/should etc…But to compare Henry to Adams??

    Henry first of all has a very positive personality – one that ‘wins’ peoples attention and appreciation. He speaks after careful thinking – a complete contrast to what Adams is.

    I won’t even mention other negatives of Adams (we know them too well) and Henry can only command respect!

  14. Totally agree. TH14 has to learn his trade before he can even be consodered for one of the biggest jobs in World football:- Managing Arsenal FC.

    This is where the journalists and many on the AAAA go wrong. They think they are experts and that football management is simply abouit picking the team.

    Be great to have TH14 at the club working with the players, at all levels. They can learn so much from him.

  15. @Rich
    December 2, 2014 at 10:16 am

    I can see that happening!

    Not through a crystal ball mind you 🙂

  16. Personally, Id like to see him join the Arsenal team for the rest of the season during the January transfer window.
    Henry is not gonna be like he was in terms of pace and energy but would be good to have him to bring on, in say, the last 20 minutes of a CL game.
    Its not as if he would cost us money to xfer as hes a free agent now and lets face it, a 37 year old Henry still has bags more quality and skill than Campbell and Sanogo.
    Yea, just last 10/20 minutes of some games, when we need a game changer.
    The fans would love it, he would love it and the club would love it as Im pretty sure he would make a difference in them last 20 minutes, if anything else he would sell a zillion shirts and bring some inspiration to the team.

  17. I would like to see TH learn at managing, by working with skilled players not in the EPL. For him to go to a team well known for working with youth in Europe is probably also too close to “home”. I think Brazil or Argentina might be the place to start. If Nigeria was more stable, that might be a place to go.

  18. Coaching in football is not as complex as some make it out to be. The primary understanding is always physical readiness and tactical awareness. Styles of play vary from coach to coach but my favourite is the Wenger / Cryuff style of ultimate football. Pass the ball player to player and ultimately into the net. There was a ‘bootroom’ program on Sky with Andy Gray & Eric Cantona that really impressed me. Cantona was explaining how important it was to have intelligent thinking players that could fill the holes left by those moving for/with the ball. There are several aspects other than play that need to be covered including preparation, diet, mental, sociological and physical.

    The rhythm of the team needs to be established and set to music so that they all have the same beat while playing and time moves to perfection. Thierry is a great footballer but needs a lot of learning to get to the position of coach.

    I think Bergkamp is probably more prepared & suitable for the Arsenal role. He would need some time getting his preferred methods into place. That does not mean there is no place for Henry.

  19. In the past, AW has chosen (in large part?) who was to play for the league cup and the FA Cup games. Might it be possible that beginning manager trainee be given the position of managing (for example) the FA Cup team? This person would need to become familiar with the opposition (when we learned of them). And a few days before the game, preparations with AW would be directed towards finding the 11 plus substitutions who best fill the goals AW has for that game.

  20. Love to see him as part of the coaching staff. Get TH14 training alongside the likes of Welbeck & the other young strikers & watch the goals come.

    The likes of Les Ferdinand & Teddy Sheringham have had a similar role at other clubs.

  21. Would love to see him back, but he has to learn his trade , prove himself, or perhaps do his badges at Colney first.
    I cannot even begin to imagine who will replace wenger, but will confidently predict it will not be Klopp, nor will Thierry be ready at that stage.

  22. TH playing one last game for France

    Do we get brownie points for being first? 🙂

    If France was to bring TH back to the national team for one last game, I would imagine they still want to win that game. They could do the usual in Europe, and play San Marino, Lichtenstein or simlar. But I would rather see them play Canada. It is still a win for France. But I really don’t think the small fish of UEFA are ever going to get better, and I think Gibralter will almost always struggle. Canada (supoposedly) desires to do better, and Canada and France have considerable social history.

    For me, the question is: does France play the Canadian Men’s team or the Canadian Women’s team? I suspect the Women’s team would give them a better game. And it would make many statements. And one of those statements might get the CSA to get their heads out of their own asses.

  23. Actually, Henry credits Ronaldo (the original one) and George Weah as having revolutionised the CF role.

    Anyway, Henry has the intelligent and industry needed to be a top manager. Of course he should start lower down, but I don’t see why that should be at Arsenal, after all, Bergkamp is earning his stripes at Ajax, so perhaps Henry could go back to another of his former clubs to learn his trade.

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