The prospect of seeing Henry take over remains a tantalizing one for many fans who would love to see their hero return to the Emirates in a prominent role. So should the idea of Henry as manager be dismissed out of hand? Perhaps not. Here’s a look at the pros and cons of putting Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer in the dugout.
1. He’s an Arsenal man
What better way to ensure that Wenger’s legacy lives on than to pick one of his former players as his successor? Henry, who left Arsenal for Barcelona in 2007 after eight years in North London, knows the club inside and out and has been schooled in the philosophies and values which Wenger has spent the last 20 years ingraining in both players and staff. If Arsenal are worried that a new manager would come in and tear up the script completely, Henry would guarantee a sense of continuity. And his love for the crest can never be questioned.
2. Instant respect from players
Henry’s status as a legend at the club — he scored a record 228 goals in 377 appearances — would make sure he gets instant respect from the squad despite his lack of coaching credentials. People tend to listen to someone who already has a statue outside the stadium. And the 39-year-old’s age could serve as an advantage, as some worry that the 67-year-old Wenger no longer has the same connection with players as the younger generation of managers like Pep Guardiola (46), Antonio Conte (47) and Jurgen Klopp (49). Henry has lived the life of a modern-day footballer, meaning the current generation can relate to him easily.
3. Fan support
This might be the biggest benefit of hiring Henry: he would unite a divided fan base. The former France international is one of the best-loved players in the club’s history, and supporters would probably grant him a longer honeymoon period than a more experienced manager would get. With Wenger causing an ever-increasing split among supporters, the club could certainly use the feel-good factor that Henry would bring.
1. Lack of experience
This list could end here. Henry has never been in the manager’s hot seat, and that’s the main reason it would be shocking to see Arsenal offer him the top job at this stage. Helping coach the under-18s and serving as an assistant to a national team is a far cry from handling the every-day pressures of managing a top club. Arsenal need a proven world-class manager to replace Wenger, not someone who will learn on the job.
2. Tactical awareness
Being a top player doesn’t necessarily translate into being a top manager. And those players who do become top-level coaches tend to be either former defenders or midfielders – not strikers. Henry was a genius when it came to finding open space and ways to finish, but does he know what tactical change to make when things aren’t going as planned? Arsenal need a manager who can improve their defensive stability and toughness, not their attacking flair.
3. Too outspoken?
Henry has become a very popular TV pundit in part because he is not afraid to speak his mind — even if that means criticising Arsenal’s players or Wenger himself. Would he be able to rein in his tongue if he had to answer tough questions at news conferences before and after every game? The media loves outspoken managers — they’re a rarity these days — but sometimes it’s better for the club to stay silent and keep things internally. Wenger is a master at that, no matter how much criticism he faces, but would Henry be as disciplined?
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