In his new job as a TV pundit for Sky Sports, the former Arsenal and France international forward Thierry Henry has got to at least try to keep his bias in check, as the likes of Gary Neville and the hordes of ex Liverpool players do with varying degrees of success. Everyone knows which teams these different commentators have a preference for but they still have to do their best to see things objectively.
So it must have been hard for Henry to give his opinion on what has happened and is happening to the reigning champions Chelsea, without gloating or bursting out laughing, but the Arsenal legend just about managed it when questioned about it by Sky Sports.
Like the rest of us, Henry is struggling to understand how Chelsea could have fallen so far so fast and he admits that for the last few weeks he has expected them to suddenly click into gear and start to show us all that it was just a blip. After yet another poor result and performance though, the flying Frenchman thinks they have shot their bolt.
Henry said, “You’d like to think Chelsea will come back stronger, but are they going to challenge for the title? I don’t think so any more, but weirder stuff has happened.
“I think they are out of it. Every weekend I think ‘today will be too much for West Ham’ and every single time they win the game. Manchester City and Manchester United are the teams that are going to challenge with Arsenal. Maybe there will be a surprise team in the top four and maybe will push for the title or maybe Chelsea will come back strong at the end?
“Teams find out what you do on the field and they try and come with a different philosophy – that’s why it’s hard to win this league back-to-back. Mourinho did it in his first spell at Chelsea, it’s not an easy thing to do.
“I never did it with Arsenal, so that’s how hard it is. Sometimes you step onto the field and think’s it’s easy because you are the champions but no, the opposition want to beat you more.
“Chelsea are collapsing. We gave them the benefit of the doubt in pre-season, but they still haven’t got it back together. However, I do think people are going a bit too far with what is happening.
“They are still the champions. I think they’ll bounce back. I don’t think Mourinho leaving the club would be a smart move but you never know nowadays.
“You have to give him the respect about what he’s achieved in the game. People forget that he won the treble with Inter Milan. Wherever he’s been, he’s won things. This is one of the first times he’s had to deal with a crisis at a club. I think he’s smart enough to deal with it. He has the team and the experience to recover. Let’s not forget what he’s achieved at Porto, at Inter Milan, at Real Madrid. It’s amazing.”
Knowing how close Henry is to Arsene Wenger, I have to assume that the kind words about Mourinho are just lip service and part of his remit to be unbiased. Behind closed doors however, is there a single Arsenal fan who feels anything but joy at what is happening over at Stamford Bridge?