Thierry Henry is an example to ex-Arsenal legends by Dan Smith
This weekend Frank Lampard and Steven Gerrard make their domestic bows as managers. How both succeed is vital to all football fans. Unlike other players in their generation they are trying to give something back to the game rather then settle for the comfort of the media. Our very own Thierry Henry, also rich enough to never work another day of his life, wants to put himself under huge pressure due to love of the sport.
There are too many individuals who could offer their experience to youngsters who are working for TV and radio. While we criticise them for taking the easy way out, clubs have offered little incentive for people to move out of their comfort zones. The harsh reality is a rookie boss can be judged purely on how their first job works out. One bad experience could make you unemployable. Under that remit the juice is not worth the squeeze.
Football must be a rare business where millionare’s make one decision but minds are changed based on the short term. It’s why Henry, like Lampard and Gerrard, has to pick his next role carefully. As much as owners take risks by hiring those with no experience, these ex pros are gambling that their owners are stable and patient. It shows the winners they were when playing that they have backed themselves, picking jobs where triumph is hardly certain. It’s not like either are working for employers who are bankrolling a project. Because they maximised their ability, it’s that mindset which makes then not wait for an easier journey. Thierry will do the same.
It’s why all neutrals should wish newcomers to the dugout positive starts (even Joey Barton). If they impress it will encourage their peers to return to the game, improving coaching in this country instead of the same old names being recycled. If they are sacked after 2 months many will just settle for a gig at Sky or BT. The FA often talk about methods to make more coaches in this country. The ambition of former Premiership legends is a positive but those men are still in the minority.
The money in the game increases pressure, meaning billionaire owners havn’t got time to worry about helping improve the future. Not surprisingly considering we are owned by Stan Kroenke, Arsenal as a big club could be doing more in looking after their own. I can’t just blame that on the American though. For years we were told Arsene Wenger had control in most matters, yet chose not to surround himself with ex players till the end of his tenure. Compare that to Man United, Liverpool , Spurs, etc who have always offered their legends a role after retirement. Think how many winners the Frenchmen worked with, some of the greatest minds in history wasted as they couldn’t share that knowledge.
The likes of Tony Adams has travelled round the world to find a chance. Sol Campbell had gone as far as suggesting the industry is racist due to not making shortlists. Imagine how defenders could be educated by having the famous back 4 around in training. Surely their presence even in the canteen would have improved the weak mentality we displayed in the last decade. The theory has often been that while paying off the stadium debt Mr Wenger didn’t want to be challenged by winners. It’s why observers feel he didn’t make the most of having Steve Bould as his number 2, his assistant possibly not allowed the input he wanted.
The fact that Ljunberg, Pires, Lehmann and now the BFG have been welcome back is an admission that maybe not keeping some of our greats connected to the Emirates was a flaw. If you had to name Wenger signings turned to managers, the few successes have been Bergkamp and Van Bronkhurst. That’s more down to Dutch clubs, in particular Ajax, looking after their own. The model of Bayern Munich is built on ex talent.
Majority of the class of 93 have been on the pay roll at Old Trafford long after hanging up their boots. Tim Sherwood and Les Ferdinand were looked after by Spurs. Gerrard was immediately allowed to work with their academy. Chelsea are supporting Lampard and Terry in taking their badges. Yet Henry and Viera had to go elsewhere to get support (Henry did work with our young guns).
Given the talent, creativity and imagination we have seen come and go more ex-Gunners should be in prominent positions.
Arsenal should do more to help them.