Thierry has been interviewed for The Arsenal magazine this month and yesterday the official site out some snippets of what he said online. He is my favourite player of all time at Arsenal, which I know will seem like sacrilege to those of you who appreciate Dennis, Rocky and Liam Brady, but for me it was always Thierry. When he was at his explosive best was when I was become as fanatical about the Arsenal as I’ve ever been. I’ve seen Dennis do amazing things, but I was a young teenager when he signed, so perhaps unable to appreciate exactly what he gave to the club on such a consistent basis. Since my early 20s however, I’ve watched games much differently and become better at appreciating class when I see it.
Henry oozed class and because of my own Arsenal supporting timeline, it’s natural that I see him as my favourite player, I think.
But anyway, Thierry has given an interview to the official magazine, in which he’s talked about how much he loves coming back to the club. He’s doing his coaching badges at the moment and assisting the coaching at Arsenal. There’s a picture of Ryan Garry and Henry in training and boy, what I would give to be in his shoes being given advice from that guy, so I can understand why Arsenal had no hesitation with giving him an opportunity to do his coaching badges at London Colney.
Whether or not he eventually goes in to management or not I’m not sure. Modern day players don’t need the money, just the drive, but there also needs to be an element of self awareness too. What I like about the interview is that Henry speaks about how coaching and management is so much more than just transferring the training ground to the pitch on a Saturday. Or Sunday. Or Monday. Or in some instances a Friday…
But it’s refreshing to hear the insight of a person who is clearly quite articulate, who is keen to learn and who appreciates that management is more than putting comes out and picking a team. Can Thierry be a good manager? I’m not sure. It seems to me from the outside that there is no correlation between playing and managing, and having met so few professional football managers in my life, I can’t really say I know a series of key traits that are prevalent. But I do think there is something in learning ones trade lower down the divisions, like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has done at Burton and now at QPR. He’s had to deal with players of differing quality, most of whom will never be as good as he was, yet he’s been able to shape them in to a successful team and as a result has moved up the leagues. I’m not so sure that the Barcelona and Real Madrid model of recent years – i.e. Promote someone from within – is something that can work anywhere else, because they are effectively operating in a duopoly of a league, certainly from a financial point of view. They also have a way of dealing with transfers that means the managers are just coaches and then people who pick the team from a list of superstars who have been wrestled from other clubs. In essence, all they have to do is motivate some of the best players in the world, so I’m not sure they could do the same in England.
So for Thierry, if he wants to one day manage at the top – potentially Arsenal – I think he will have to go through some trials and tribulations at other clubs before stepping up. Hopefully he can make a success at whatever he does.
For me, his legacy will always be one of a player who has brought so much joy to me personally, including this little beauty on his second spell at the club. I was there that evening and it was like having a little bit of history replayed in front of your very eyes. The way he did his trademark opening of the body and side-foot the ball to the ‘keepers far post was like being in a time machine and seeing him do it once more was surreal. I remember repeatedly shouting “he’s f*cking done it again!” in Block 5. It was marvellous. Who’d have thought a difficult FA Cup tie in which Arsenal weren’t great for large parts, could have such positive memories, eh?
Anyway, I’m going to leave you with those memories for another day, so smile and enjoy your Thursday.