Why Thierry Henry should never be Arsenal's manager

He may have been a superb player for the north Londoners, writes Gooner Chas Newkey-Burden, but the former France international doesn't have the right personality for the top job at the Emirates...

Over the years, some bizarre candidates have been suggested as potential successors to Arsene Wenger, including Harry Redknapp, Owen Coyle and Michael Laudrup. The other week, a fully grown adult guest on an Arsenal podcast suggested a managerial duo of Eddie Howe and George Graham.

A mindboggling proposition, but no more foolish than the idea that Wenger should be replaced by Thierry Henry. With this week’s news that the club’s record goalscorer has been offered a coaching role with Arsenal U18s, some Gooners are suggesting that he will one day become the first-team boss.

As an Arsenal fan, I’ll always be grateful for Henry’s cosmic contributions to the club, but even were he to accumulate managerial experience, I feel his egocentric and flighty character make him the last person we’d want anywhere near the manager’s seat.

Henry is one of Arsenal's greatest ever players, but did his style of play show why he may be unsuited to management?

I’ve actually never warmed to Henry the man at all. Even though he’s been voted in countless polls as the Arsenal fans’ all-time favourite player, he’d struggle to make my top 20 in terms of affection. Before I am burned at the stake, let me explain my heresy.

Self-centred striker

On a good day, Henry’s show-boating style was a joy, but all too often his fancy flicks proved, from a team point of view, an unhelpful overindulgence

Clearly, Henry sees life as an all action-movie in which he is not so much the lead star but the lead star in a cast of one. It’s all about Thierry. When this worked, it was great: his hat-trick against Liverpool in April 2004 lifted a shell-shocked stadium and propelled the club back onto the unbeaten trail.

There are other instances of individual heroism from the man,. For the casual viewer who watches Match of the Day and occasionally catches a live Sky match, Henry must have seemed a flawless jewel. Certainly for those Gunners fans susceptible to disingenuous crowd-pleasing gestures he was an unquestionable icon. But for the more thorough and discerning viewer, he could be an infuriating player.

He scowled and screamed at team-mates if they didn't make him the epicentre of their every move. This bullying habit hindered his younger colleagues’ development, as he later admitted himself. He fluffed a string of chances as the Gunners lost to Liverpool in the 2001 FA Cup Final, and in fact failed to find the net in any of the five finals in which he appeared for Arsenal.

On a good day, Henry’s showboating style was a joy, but all too often his fancy flicks proved, from a team point of view, an unhelpful overindulgence.

Bad attitude?

The moment the going got tough, with a young squad struggling to adjust to the Emirates era, he showed what sort of ‘captain’ he was by running off to Barcelona

Not that arrogance need be a bad thing in a player. My favourite footballer of all time is Ian Wright, who could be as flash and cocksure as you like. But Wrighty’s warm and open heart makes him so loveable, as does his vulnerability and palpable self-awareness. Henry seems a cold, self-satisfied character in comparison.

He was eventually made captain, in a somewhat desperate attempt to convince him to remain at the club. He duly signed a new contract and vowed to stay at Arsenal for the rest of his career. But the moment the going got tough, with a young squad struggling to adjust to the Emirates era, he showed what sort of ‘captain’ he was by running off to Barcelona, only seen again in a Gunners shirt during a hellishly egocentric 2012 cameo.

He was a divisive figure at international level, too. Many in France have never forgiven him for his sulk during the nation’s disastrous 2010 World Cup campaign, where they mustered a solitary point from three games. The French had only reached the tournament at all thanks to his handball which led to the decisive goal in the qualifying play-off against Ireland. But we don’t talk about that, of course.

Thierry Henry Handball Ireland V France 1-1 (agg 1-2) Hand Of Frog /God 18/11/09  Best/Good Quality

Henry's infamous handball

Not cut out for management

To be honest, I’m not crazy about his punditry either. At the 2014 World Cup he repeatedly belittled – bullied, even – his co-analyst Robbie Savage. But karma seemed to work its magic last year when Graeme Souness put him back in his box live on Sky. Finally, the Frenchman had come up against someone who would not indulge his arrogance.

His most headline-grabbing moment as a pundit was his attack on Olivier Giroud last season, a desperate bid to prove himself an unbiased and controversial commentator. But his scapegoating of Giroud – whose imperfections are just one of many, many factors on and off the pitch that are holding the club back – was unfair. The striker’s self-assurance notably collapsed after Henry’s sour words, and it was unedifying to see so many Arsenal fans take the pundit’s side against our confidence-dependent striker.

Henry is tipped for the Arsenal U18s job, with many expecting him to become first-team boss one day

Henry’s achievements as a player were vast. He retired with medals from the World Cup, European Championship, Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. But a great player does not equal a great manager – ask Diego Maradona, Sir Bobby Charlton, Bobby Moore, Hristo Stoichkov, Lothar Matthaus or dozens of others.

Thierry’s impulsive, grandstanding personality and his occasional tendency for cruelty would seem to leave him ill-suited to the patience and paternalism required for football management. He is a thrilling firework where a slow-burning candle is needed.

So let’s stop pretending that this retired club legend can slot effortlessly back into the Emirates as a managerial supremo for a grand Hollywood ending. Rose-tinted glasses are almost inevitable when you look back in football, but if you wear them when you look forward you are playing a dangerous game.

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I think this comment is very disrespectfully towards the club greatest player. I can just imagine this text from a Spurs supporter. Yes, Thierry left but we all know how hard he tried before agreeing to move to Barcelona. He could have left 2-3 years earlier, he could have gone to any premier league, but he didn't.

Personally I wouldn't like to see Thierry manage Arsenal, my dear club before proving himself. This is better for him and for all true Arsenal supporters who love the club and Thierry Henry alike. However, if can prove to be great manager in the future why would we exclude the possibility of having him? He is one of us! Pretending he is arrogant, selfish etc... It is like we all haven't got these sides in us.

alot of baseless attacks from a plastic fan...and who the hell is souness....th14 is better than the current manager.

The writer has a lot of hate for Henry apparently. Almost working overtime to dent his reputation. Painting stories like we didn't watch Henry play or understand the situation with his departure then (by the way, most gunner fans were happy he joined Barcelona). Take a chill pill already on your hack job on the prospect of Henry coaching the senior team, no need giving yourself nightmares over nothing.

While I love TH14 who was second only to GOD10 ... I really agree with

"He scowled and screamed at team-mates if they didn't make him the epicentre of their every move. This bullying habit hindered his younger colleagues’ development, as he later admitted himself."

So many very promising younger players could have developed into fantastic players with a bit of positive encouragement (as offered by GOD10) rather than the negative pointing and shouting that TH14 offered them. Great player but will need to learn a lot before he can motivate a team IMHO

What utter nonsense. The guy encouraged & helped players more than most, which is proven by his assist record. He still holds the record number of assists in a Premier League season at 20 & always looked out to help new players, noteably Francis Jeffers who he constantly set goals up on a plate for, despite having the chance to add to his own goal tally. Yes he screamed at players when they didn't give him the ball occasionally, but only when they were in the wrong & when he was in a better position & cus he so badly wanted the team to win. He never got angry when we were smashing teams, just when the game was close & he knew it was important to win. I wish a few more of our modern players had this passion & desire then we may well have won a lot more trophies over the past 10 years. Nice guys are very rarely winners.

Presumably we have all read Phillipe Auclair's brilliant biography...? This article is not saying anything new and is rehashing old arguments. There is some veiled racism as well through the irrelevant comparison with his predecessor as Arsenal's record goal scorer. Henry always had an aura but he was very competitive and maintained high standards. The notion that he caused young players careers to 'fail' is essentially psychobabble. Clearly there is no guarantee of anyone becoming a 'great' manager as there are so few. Furthermore, it is well established that supremely talented players who had great careers do not translate their brilliance on the pitch to the dugout. However, this does not mean that these stars are incapable of being managers. Usually, given the success that they have had as players there is little impetus to make the sacrifices required to succeed as a coach. If they have the motivation and hunger and are willing to study then ultimately they should be given a chance on merit. As long as they actually want to become managers rather than showmen, then they can succeed. My suspicion is that the problem of star players/'failed' coaches is predominantly an English one and we have continuously failed to develop a coherent programme of football coach/manager education in the UK. Look at Holland, Italy, France and Spain and compare their rich history to that of the 'tougher' Anglo-Nordic nations...