Home Championship Thierry Henry: Arsenal legend won it all but his coaching career has been far from smooth

Thierry Henry: Arsenal legend won it all but his coaching career has been far from smooth

by Football Frenzied

There aren’t too many footballers in the history of the sport with a more decorated career than Thierry Henry.

A World Cup and European Championship winner with France, the former striker won elite prizes at club level too, lifting domestic titles in England and Spain, the Champions League and FIFA Club World Cup.

But for all of his success as a player, Henry’s move into coaching has been far from an easy transition.

Thierry Henry emerged as the front-runner for the Bournemouth job but eventually missed out

Henry is currently in charge of MLS side Montreal, having joined the club in November 2019

Henry is currently in charge of MLS side Montreal, having joined the club in November 2019

Despite a mixed time in the dugout so far, Henry emerged as Bournemouth’s No 1 choice to replace Jason Tindall as manager last week.

Sportsmail understands that Henry was interested in speaking to the Cherries about the opportunity, and that the club approached MLS side Montreal, where the 43-year-old is currently in charge, for permission to speak to him.

However, after making no progress, the Championship side opted to appoint caretaker manager Jonathan Woodgate on a deal until the end of the season. 

Whether Bournemouth make another attempt to give Henry his first job in England this summer remains to be seen, with the club’s hierarchy keen on the lure his name could prove when it comes to recruitment and sponsorship. 

But while he is rightly regarded as one of the world’s best players of the last 25 years, Henry is still relatively new to the managerial game.

In February 2015, Henry returned to Arsenal to begin coaching their youth teams. Just 13 months later he completed his UEFA A License under the Football Association of Wales.

Henry began his coaching career at his former club Arsenal and helped their academy stars

Henry began his coaching career at his former club Arsenal and helped their academy stars

Andries Jonker (centre) wanted Henry to be Arsenal's Under 18 coach but he was overruled

Andries Jonker (centre) wanted Henry to be Arsenal’s Under 18 coach but he was overruled

Then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (right) wanted someone who could be fully committed

Then Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger (right) wanted someone who could be fully committed

However, he was reportedly shown the door by Arsenal after being offered their Under-18 coaching job by then head of academy Andries Jonker, only to be personally overruled by Arsene Wenger.

Having completed his A licence, Henry had to coach a team to get his UEFA Pro Licence – something he had hoped to achieve at Arsenal.

In the end though, Wenger scuppered that opportunity because he wanted someone in the position on a full-time basis, something Henry couldn’t commit to due to his work as a TV pundit for Sky Sports.

Despite the setback, it didn’t take Henry too long to land on his feet as he was appointed as an assistant manager to Roberto Martinez in the Belgium set-up.

Speaking about his hiring, Martinez said of Henry in August 2016: ‘Thierry brings something completely different. He’s someone who has been in the situation of having to develop a mentality in a team of chasing the dream of winning something special for his country.

After leaving Arsenal, Henry became an assistant to Roberto Martinez (left) at Belgium in 2016

After leaving Arsenal, Henry became an assistant to Roberto Martinez (left) at Belgium in 2016

‘He is very much an important figure in our staff and we hope he will pass on his experience to the players.

‘I’m very pleased with the effort of the federation to put in a support staff as impressive as it is. But always remember that the star is the talent of the players.

‘The attacking quality we have in our group is very rich. Thierry Henry’s experience of being able to go through that situation that we have as a team is going to be very important. Then when you go into the basics of simple attacking drills, as a player you can get a lot from him. That’s going to be a big role from Thierry’s point of view.’

Acting as third in command behind Martinez and fellow assistant Graeme Jones, Henry was able to continue his badges while working as a pundit for Sky.

That isn’t to underestimate his impact within the Belgium squad though, with their ‘Golden Generation’ finishing third at the 2018 World Cup.

He helped the squad finish third at the 2018 World Cup - they lost to eventual winners France

He helped the squad finish third at the 2018 World Cup – they lost to eventual winners France

During their time together with Belgium, star striker Romelu Lukaku was glowing about Henry’s impact on him personally.

Speaking in 2017, Lukaku told NBC Sports: ‘Henry is the best thing that has happened to me because since I came to England aged 18 I have had the best mentors.

‘I have had possibly the five best strikers of the last 10 years as mentors.

‘I had Didier Drogba, Nicolas Anelka, Samuel Eto’o, Fernando Torres and now Thierry Henry. That’s not bad, is it?

‘It is the best thing that could happen in my career because I am a young guy.

He was a big influence on star striker Romelu Lukaku (right) during their time with Belgium

He was a big influence on star striker Romelu Lukaku (right) during their time with Belgium

‘Thierry for me is the best. Every day whether it is positive and negative I take it in my stride because I know what is expected from the top level.

‘Working with him in Belgium I really take my time with him asking questions, I don’t take him for granted, I sometime ask him questions for two hours.

‘I will get the information that I need and take it on board.’

That attention to detail clearly improved Lukaku’s game as he plundered 28 goals for his country while Henry was involved.

After the World Cup, Henry was promoted to become Belgium’s assistant manager following Jones’ departure.

Lukaku scored 28 goals for Belgium during Henry's period and the striker has hailed his impact

Lukaku scored 28 goals for Belgium during Henry’s period and the striker has hailed his impact

However, the Frenchman’s stock had risen and he was close to joining Bordeaux in August 2018 before a disagreement over ‘financial reasons’ scuppered the deal.

Just two months later, he landed the first managerial role of his career when he replaced Leonardo Jardim as Monaco boss.

Henry returned to his former side – where he made his first team breakthrough as a youngster in 1994 – with the club floundering in 18th place in Ligue 1.

Upon his unveiling on a three-year deal, he spoke of ‘fate’ and being ‘incredibly excited to be given this opportunity’.

Then Monaco vice president and chief executive Vadim Vasilyev said at the time: ‘His knowledge of football, his passion for the game, his high standards and his commitment to our colours make his nomination a reality.

In October 2018, Henry took his first role as a manager when he became boss of Monaco

In October 2018, Henry took his first role as a manager when he became boss of Monaco

‘Thierry is both aware of the task ahead and eager to start his new job. He can count on our trust and all our support to bring a new dynamic to the team and carry out its mission.’

Fast-forward just three months to January 2019, and Monaco’s view of Henry was very different.

He was initially ‘suspended’ by the club as they made a final decision on his future, but that quickly turned into an official sacking and a nightmare start to his time as a manager.

He was unable to arrest Monaco’s slide, with the club languishing 19th in Ligue 1 upon his departure.

He only had a 20 per cent win record at the Stade Louis II, winning just four of his 20 league games in charge – drawing five times and losing the other 11. Across that period, his side scored just 15 goals and conceded 36.

Henry only lasted three months at his former club and he sacked after an awful run of results

Henry only lasted three months at his former club and he sacked after an awful run of results

This was all despite signing four players in the January transfer window – including former Arsenal team-mate Cesc Fabregas.

Henry’s poor touchline etiquette also came under the spotlight during a 5-1 Ligue 1 thrashing by Strasbourg, which proved to be his last game in charge.

Angry at the opposition’s timewasting, he was caught on camera telling opposition right-back Kenny Lala that his ‘grandmother’s a w****’.

Henry quickly backtracked after the match, apologising for his outburst.

‘It’s an expression of the street, unfortunately,’ he said. ‘I regret my comments from the bench. It was a human reaction, I’m still human. I regret it.

‘Sometimes I do it in English. Maybe in English it wouldn’t have been as noticeable. No, I’m joking. I should not do it.’

His final game in charge at Monaco saw them thumped 5-1 at home by Strasbourg in Ligue 1

His final game in charge at Monaco saw them thumped 5-1 at home by Strasbourg in Ligue 1

It would be 10 months before Henry found a new job, and that was in the unlikely location of Montreal, Canada.

The Frenchman was announced as MLS outfit Montreal’s manager in November 2019, signing a two-year deal with an option to extend it by a year.

Looking for a fresh challenge after the disaster at Monaco, Henry found his debut campaign in the hotseat hamstrung before it even begun. Montreal sold their best player, Ignacio Piatti, before the season started and also allowed another designated player, Saphir Taider, to depart. 

On top of those exits, Henry had to contend with getting to know his squad in the midst of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Despite these trials and tribulations though, he managed to guide them into the play-offs – a feat that his predecessor, another former Arsenal player in Remi Garde, failed to achieve in the previous season. 

However, they were knocked out by New England Revolution in heartbreaking fashion – losing 2-1 courtesy of 95th-minute injury-time goal from Gustavo Bou.

The 43-year-old had to wait 10 months before he was given another managerial job at Montreal

The 43-year-old had to wait 10 months before he was given another managerial job at Montreal

Henry has shown tactical flexibility at Montreal, having deployed 4-1-2-1-2, 3-5-2 and a 4-3-3 formations. At Monaco he was criticised for playing some personnel out of position and he has been accused of doing the same thing at his current club, too.

The fire still burns within Henry on the touchline, but he must be wary of not overstepping the mark like he did with Lala.

During their 1-0 defeat by Nashville in October 2020, Henry was mic’d up to enable fans to hear him bark instructions to his players. He didn’t hold back, bellowing tactical information to them while showing his emotions on the touchline.

Clearly a passionate figure, Henry’s man-management style has also been criticised in Canada due to the occasional look of disgust and lack of encouragement at a player when they fail to see what he sees on the pitch.

Henry’s record in MLS is better than at Monaco but still leaves plenty of room for improvement. He has a win percentage of 31 at Montreal, having come out on top in nine of his 29 matches in charge, drawing four and losing 16 times. His side have scored 38 times and conceded 50 goals.

Across his two managerial roles, Henry has a win percentage of just 26.5 per cent. Despite this, Wenger believes his former striker has what it takes to succeed at Bournemouth – should they come back for him at the end of the season.

Henry was mic'd up during a 1-0 defeat by Nashville, allowing people to hear him shout

Henry was mic’d up during a 1-0 defeat by Nashville, allowing people to hear him shout

Henry's managerial record in all competitions at Monaco and Montreal Impact

Henry’s managerial record in all competitions at Monaco and Montreal Impact

Wenger, speaking on punditry duty for beIN Sports last week, said: ‘It’s a good club, Bournemouth, and I think a good test as well for somebody.

‘They have good players and they work well, so I think it’s a great platform for a young manager to show that he can do it in England enough to go to the Premier League.’

Only time will tell if Henry gets the opportunity to show what he’s capable of at Bournemouth in the future, but a return to England feels inevitable at some point.

Having established himself as one of the Premier League’s greatest ever players, he will be determined to forge a successful managerial career in the top flight too.

But for now at least, after a rough start to life in the dugout, the Championship feels like the right place for Henry to prove his worth.

Wenger has backed Henry to succeed at Bournemouth should he be offered the job again

Wenger has backed Henry to succeed at Bournemouth should he be offered the job again

Source: DailyMail

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