Thierry Henry to AS Monaco - What does this mean for the Red and Whites?
After a 2-1 home defeat against Rennes on Sunday, Monaco found themselves in the 18th position in the Ligue 1, a title they won two years ago. After winning only 1 in 9 games, Monaco decided to sack their manager, Leonardo Jardim. The Venezuelan coach was appointed on 10 June 2014 and guided the 'red and whites' to league glory in 2017.
This glory was achieved with the help of young talents such as Kylian Mbappe, Bernardo Silva, Tiémoué Bakayoko, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and veterans Joao Moutinho and Falcao. Out of all the players named above, the only player remaining is Falcao. The remaining players have made big money moves to teams like PSG, Manchester City and Liverpool.
After this mass exodus of players and the departure of a coach that looked to be building a project at the club, one would expect Monaco to appoint a more experienced name like Claudio Ranieri, Antonia Conte or even bring back Arsene Wenger to the club. Instead, it is not the return of the French manager but it is the return of an ex-player who looks to begin his club coaching career at Monaco.
AS Monaco shocked the world when they announced the appointment of then Belgium assistant manager, Thierry Henry. While the 41-year-old is one of the most famous players of the Premier League, racking a total of 226 goals in all competitions with Arsenal, he has never managed at a club before. So the question arises, how will the two-time EPL champion and four-time Premier League Golden Boot winner fare in his first appointment at a club?
Let us see the possible areas where Thierry Henry could make a big impact at Monaco.
Monaco's youth system
Monaco's starting 11 has an average age of 26.6. While this might seem like an older team, the average is pushed a bit high due to the experienced starters such as Falcao, Subasic in goal and the centre-backs Glik and Raggi. Monaco has a flood of young players in Benjamin Henrichs, Moussa Sylla, 18-year-old Sofiane Diop, Youri Tielemans and the youngster who impressed everyone at the World Cup Aleksandr Golovin.
Thierry Henry himself made his professional debut with Monaco when he was 17 years old. So the former striker himself knows a thing or two about how important a backbone of young players is to the club. But what is more interesting is that Thierry Henry had also undergone a huge change in his career at a young age.
After playing as a winger at Juventus and Monaco, Thierry Henry was converted into a striker under Arséne Wenger and history speaks for itself. He went on to score 360 goals in 792 career appearances.
Therefore, it is fair to say that the French manager knows how important spotting a young player's strengths and weaknesses is. If one can spot the strengths and weaknesses early on, he/she can develop the player accordingly. With Monaco's youth blooming, Henry might just be the catalyst for the growth of four to five world-class players. Furthermore, all these players will have the utmost respect for the 41-year-old which makes his job even easier.
Implementation of tactics from the best managers
Thierry Henry has played under the best managers in the world during his career. He played under Marcelo Lippi, Carlo Ancelotti, Arséne Wenger and Pep Guardiola. Each of these managers has a different philosophy and Henry was able to adapt under every one of them except maybe during his time at Juventus. Henry wasn't a conventional striker as he usually stayed on the flanks due to his past experience as a winger and would find spaces between the centre-back and full-back to attack.
However, he wouldn't have had as much freedom to play in the final third if it wasn't for a strong tactical foundation from the coach. As a player, Henry would have studied the tactic of the team with the manager to know how he can best make his runs in order to get free space in the opponents' box. In fact, he has been in various discussions and analyses as a part of matchday shows during his time as a football pundit with Sky Sports.
Stability for the season, if not long-term stability
His time at Belgium as assistant manager under Roberto Martinez has also contributed to the immense knowledge he has gained over time. Thierry Henry comes as a modern-day coach who was a high profile player before, similar to Steve Gerrard, Ryan Giggs, Frank Lampard and Mikel Arteta but the difference here is that he has played under more top managers and will hope to spread his knowledge to all the players at Monaco.
After starting the season on the wrong foot, it is fair to say that the Monaco team, as well as the fanbase, was in a state of unrest. The club also lost more than half of its title-winning team from two years ago. This also meant that any long-term project that Jardim started was thrown out of the window and he had to start afresh with new players such as Golovin and Tielemans. However, a run of bad results meant that the Venezuelan saw his last days at the club and was finally sacked.
Any appointment thereafter would've been treated with hostility. Any appointment except Thierry Henry. While it is a surprising choice to resurrect the club, it has got a fairytale-like story to it where the high profile player returns to his home club after getting all the success in Europe to pick the club up from a very volatile position. This choice unites the fans of the club as well as makes sure that the players respect the new manager.
Thierry Henry has performed at the biggest stages as a player and every player respects him for his amazing career and next to impossible feats. So kudos to the Monaco board for pulling off such an amazing move which could potentially move them from 18th position to serious title contenders. But could the move prove to be a step too high for 'El Mimo'. Only time will tell.