From dream to nightmare. On October 13, 2018, Thierry Henry was appointed coach of AS Monaco. Inexperienced, the 1998 world champion, who had occupied a post of assistant in Belgian selection, wanted to launch his coaching career in the club where he had made his first pros as a player. But after twenty matches and a nineteenth place, the former Arsenal player was dismissed on January 24, 2019. Touched, but not sunk, Henry wanted to resume service. And this time, he didn’t want to be wrong. Ten months after leaving Le Rocher, he signed for two years, plus an optional year, with the Montreal Impact in Major League Soccer.
A good image in MLS
A new challenge very different from what he had known at ASM where he was eagerly awaited. In Montreal, Thierry Henry was also, but the pressure was however less strong than in France. “His career as a coach has been followed, especially in Monaco where he left a bad image. Sportingly, observers have given him the benefit of the doubt. Humanly, he was very disparaged with regard to his behavior ”, explains Arnaud Salas, Major League Soccer specialist for MLS in French. Although in check at AS Monaco, the 43-year-old Frenchman arrived on familiar and conquered ground in Major League Soccer where he played as a player with the New York Red Bulls between 2010 and 2014 ( 52 goals in 135 matches).
“Despite this very special season, we can see, as expected, that he has given the Impact a very big media spotlight. The proof, as soon as the media speak of the MLS, they speak either of Inter Miami of Blaise Matuidi, or of the IMFC of Thierry Henry. He has the advantage of knowing the League and its codes even if the role of coach and player is different (…) In MLS, I think he has a good image. He is playing on his status as a New York Red Bulls top scorer. But a coaching position is quite another. If he reaches the playoffs with Montreal, the supporters will greatly thank him. If he fails, they may not hold it against him given the incredible season of the Canadian club, which only played at home one game in total in March at Stade Saputo! « , comments Arnaud Salas.
A coach who must prove
In an inevitably special season following the global health crisis linked to the coronavirus, the Montreal Impact, which spent a month and a half in Orlando for the MLS resume tournament before settling in the United States permanently, point to ninth place in the Eastern Conference with 23 points on the clock. There is only one game left to play on November 8 against DC United before any possible playoffs. In total, the IMFC has played 22 league games. It has a record of 7 wins, 2 draws and 13 defeats. She also remains on three losses in a row in the last three matches. Which is not famous if we rely solely on the numbers.
« It is difficult to come out with a real sporting record as this season has been so biased », the MLS specialist tells us. “But with one game to go at the end of the regular season, his team is in a good position to qualify for the playoffs. Everything will be played in the last match (November 8). So we will make a real assessment after … Finally, between the bubble in Orlando for the tournament this summer and the fact that Canadian clubs play and are based in New York since the resumption, we can still congratulate Henry for doing return to the playoffs in Montreal after 4 seasons of absence, in the event of qualification. ” But there is still a step to be taken for the IMFC where Henry tries to put his paw. “His team is playing quite offensively, but with the means at hand. He plays with 2 attackers and a defense of 3 or 5 but he still tends to tinker around a lot, especially because of the many injuries and suspensions his team suffers from every week! «
Henry hasn’t totally changed
Beyond the athlete, the behavior of Thierry Henry, which had not always been appreciated in Monaco by some players, was also closely followed by observers. In a complicated context, the French technician, who came to revive and prove that he could succeed on a bench, seems worn out according to various Canadian media. His attitude is that of a defensive or even defeatist person. It is also that of a man who does not hesitate to point the finger at his players. Recently, he made a series of tackles for his players. After the loss to Nashville on October 27 (1-0), he said: “We don’t shoot, we don’t center. There’s a bullet in the box, they’re not shooting. The other team shoots from everywhere. Obviously, there will be a little more keystrokes. We don’t shoot. We don’t center. We do not fit. We watched videos again this morning. And yesterday. And the day before yesterday. And the day before… And they still watch the ball, but they don’t watch the others run ”. He gave it a layer after the defeat against Orlando on Sunday (1-0), he who sometimes seems annoyed on the sidelines and sends spikes to his players.
However, Arnaud Salas believes that Thierry Henry, who had admitted to having questioned himself after his failed stint at ASM, has changed. « I have the impression that he learned from his mistakes but nothing prevents him from tackling or pointing fingers at certain offending players if necessary, such as when his attacker scores at the start of the match and is stupidly excluded in the process. He is able to always send a few spikes to his players if needed. But in my opinion, he calmed down a lot « . What make him a future great coach? “I honestly don’t think so. In any case, nothing shows that he could. I’m really waiting for him in a « normal » season to see how his team will play. But he can have a quiet little career, without necessarily being in big clubs ”. The future will tell ! And there is nothing to say that the short-term future is in Montreal for Thierry Henry, that some Canadian media see go away at the end of the season. The American dream is not easy for the French!