Arsenal legendary striker Thierry Henry has spoken out to clarify the reasons for his departure from the club’s coaching staff after spending last season as assistant coach of the under-18’s while working towards his coaching badges.
Reports had surfaced over a potential rift between Arsene Wenger and his former centre forward after comments from the Gunners manager questioned Henry’s ability to continue to manage at youth level as well as a Sky Sports pundit (via The Sun).
The former France World Cup winner has clarified that the decision was taken last season to not take on a permanent role with the Gunners due to his commitments as a pundit, and it has no impact on his appreciation for the club nor Wenger.
“Nothing will change with my love for Arsenal. First and foremost, I wasn’t an employee. I was allowed to go and pass my badges there. This decision was taken months ago, but I guess it came out now because the new season started and I wasn’t there,” Henry told The Sun. “I worked for the under-18s last year and I completed the season even though I knew I wouldn’t be staying on the following year.
“As you know, I have a current job [with Sky]. In my spare time, for free, I wanted to impart my knowledge and experiences in the game to the youngsters, while completing my coaching hours and also gaining knowledge to pass my pro licence.
“That is how it is, it was a dilemma that wasn’t really a dilemma. I have to work. I respect the decision and if I can’t complete my hours there, then I will do it somewhere else. It isn’t an issue.”
Although Henry has left Arsenal with a full time role not an option at present, the Frenchman has kept the door wide open for a move to another club to complete his coaching badges. It’s been a learning curve for the Arsenal all-time leading goalscorer and has opened his eyes to the rigours of a role as a manager.
“I understand Arsene a bit more now, along with all the coaches that I had while I was playing. It is not easy, especially with everyone now speaking on social media and judging you and thinking they know. It is very difficult and very complicated,” he said. “At the highest level, you have to deal with the press, with the egos, with tactics, with everyone, with sponsors, with the economy of the club.
“I have massive respect for those guys as before I used to arrive, train and leave. I couldn’t care less about what was happening because my job was to perform.
“People don’t care about the manager. When you finish a game, as a fan, the first thing you think about is what the manager did and whether he got it right. Or why he got it wrong.
“You never ask if the boss is OK or if he has problems himself. That guy has to front for everyone all the time, but nobody says ‘I wonder if he has a problem at home?’ or that they feel for him. Being on the other side, I see it. I would like to manage, but I am far from it.”
Although it is a shame to see another former player leave the club, there is obviously good reason for it considering Henry’s other main agenda with Sky Sports. The conflict of interest that comes with the role of a pundit has clearly hampered his chances of remaining at the club, his criticism of Olivier Giroud being the obvious example that would not have reflected kindly on his position within the club however true his statements were.
Regardless of the decision made by Wenger, hopefully Henry returns in the future and we will see him as part of the Arsenal coaching staff in the near future.
At least Tony Adams has potentially rejoined the club and looks the front runner to assisting Andries Jonker with the U-18’s.