Shall We Work With Monaco? by Dan Smith
It would be disrespectful to ever suggest Monaco could be our feeder club, their fans wouldn’t appreciate that assertion. Yet the French side have given a first managerial post to Thierry Henry, the greatest goal scorer in our history. If all goes well, many see this as the first step in our best ever player succeeding Uni Emery one day.
If Arsene Wenger was still in charge he would support his countryman with every possible resource. He invited his striker back to work with our under-age group while he is one of only three ex-players to be honoured with a statue outside the Emirates. With the Gunners now owned 100 percent by an American, it’s less clear if keeping things in the Arsenal family is a priority. We did come close to appointing an ex-player as boss in the summer, while others work within the coaching/development squads.
Emery has already shown a lack of sentiment, as he should, the only way to replace a man who worked there for over two decades is to have a strong personality and belief to do things your way. For the first time, you could argue that the two most powerful men in our club don’t feel the need to embrace the past. Hopefully our PR department are advising that it would be popular with gooners to look after our own.
Ajax and Bayern Munich are classic examples of institutions who for decades have kept ex-talent in considerations for various posts. Having a working relationship with Henry might help Emery himself. The Spaniard plans to be in North London long term so there’s no reason to help the progress of a potential future replacement. Part of his job specification though is to graduate talent from our youth set up. Reiss Nelson signed a long-term deal before agreeing to a loan switch to Hoffenheim, a regular club policy in developing our youngsters. Sancho getting called up for England could prove a turning point in how teenagers in this country approach seeking first team opportunities.
Instead of being well paid, sitting in your comfort zone at a Man City, kids now have a role model who has shown what happens if you back yourself and move abroad. 17-21-year olds trying foreign leagues could become a common practise. Our under 23’s are garnering a reputation, giving Unai plenty of options going forward. He clearly considers The Bundesliga as a place to further your education so why not Ligue 1? If you care about career progression you consider every aspect of the club you are lending your asset too, can you trust their manager for a season to teach your property the rights and wrongs? That’s where you can trust Henry. On and off the field you know the ‘Invincible’ shares your ethos. If you trust him with your future gems, you know for the duration of their stay they will be playing the game in the style their parent club would want.
Meanwhile it adds to Henry’s CV to show the Gunners he too can put their footballing principles into practise.
In the present though he’s under pressure to get his team climbing the table. Monaco are a big enough club where they won’t cherry pick from Arsenal’s academy for the sake of it. They have enough money not to go down that route. Yet if Thierry thinks there’s one or two kids (some he’s worked with) who can help him, then it’s smart to use your connections. Say if Nelson tears it up in Germany but still finds his route into our attack blocked? Surely Smith-Rowe is another who now needs a run of games? Maybe even Maitland Niles would benefit from starting every week.
If they are all reassured that this is part of an action plan, not rejection, then why not? A chance to work with a role model, while living in the richest part of France.!! Now that’s what I call an apprenticeship!!