As announcements go, it was a pretty sensational one. Thierry Henry - the new head coach of Montreal Impact.
It’s certainly a ‘box-office’ appointment, designed to make a huge splash, and in that regard, it won’t fail. The Impact has become interesting again, season-ticket sales will increase to meet what seems like a message of intent from the club, but can the guy coach?
Henry’s spell as coach at his former club, Monaco last season was nothing much short of disastrous. True he inherited a squad in need of strengthening, had more than his fair share of injury problems, but player man-management was not a strong point, nor was his chopping and changing of the team.
The Monegasques were happy to let him go after not much more than 100 days and only two league wins, sending the former Arsenal star packing with around 10-15 million euros compensation in the Henry back pocket.
He also served the Belgian national team as assistant to Roberto Martinez at the last World Cup Finals in Russia. Belgium finished a best-ever third, Henry receiving a bronze medal to add to a winner’s gong secured as a player.
During the Frenchman’s time with the Belgian squad, Inter-Milan striker Romelu Lukaku proclaimed, “Henry is the best thing that has happened to me because since I came to England aged 18 I have had the best mentors. Thierry for me is the best. Every day whether it is positive and negative I take it in my stride because I know what is expected from the top level.”
Impact CEO Kevin Gilmore reflected similar enthusiasm in announcing the new appointment.
“We are extremely happy to announce the nomination of this legend of the game.
“Henry will bring a new energy to our club. He shares our vision to elevate this club and will help us achieve our goals on and off the field.
”He is a competitor and a leader who has proven himself at the highest level throughout his career. He now brings these qualities with him to Montreal, a place he wants to be.”
Henry, a deservedly huge reputation as a player, has tended to find coaching roles based on his reputation with the ball at his feet. He’s yet to earn accolades as a coach (despite Lukaku’s comments).
He was possibly more successful in his spell with the Belgian national team due to his role being more that of mentor, but as a #1 at Monaco things unravelled fairly quickly. Perceived aloofness and arrogance suggest he will concentrate on the bigger picture issues, leaving the mechanics of building a team and improving players to others. There will need to be an effective support team behind the new coach to make this work.
Not unreasonably you expect Henry’s name to attract quality players, but someone else will have to manage the nitty, gritty detail in how to bring talent to Montreal and feed the new coach’s hunger for quality. Can’t see Thierry having the patience to wade through the complexities of MLS’ convoluted rule book to understand what can happen and what cannot.
Henry for his part suggested he’s always kept an eye on the club (you do wonder why?).
“It’s an honour to coach the Montreal Impact and return to MLS.
“It’s a league I know well, in which I had some very nice moments. To be in Quebec, in Montreal, which has an enormous multicultural heritage, it’s extraordinary. I’ve always kept an eye on the club and now I’m here.”
Oliver Renard, Impact’s new Sporting Director, who you suspect will work closest with the club’s new coach had this to say ...
“We are extremely happy with the arrival of Thierry Henry.
“Young and dynamic, he’s very familiar with MLS and meets the qualities we were looking for in our search. This nomination, two months before the start of camp in January, will give us a chance to build our squad with the man that will lead it.”
Thierry Henry succeeds Wilmer Cabrera as the seventh Montreal Impact head coach. One of the greatest players in the modern era, the Frenchman won practically every club and international honour it was possible to win and struck a record 228 goals (all competitions) in a glittering career with Arsenal.
This is undoubtedly a hugely ambitious appointment by the Impact, but like all coaches, the Frenchman will be judged by success on the field, rather than the current hype and euphoria surrounding the news.
Thierry Henry will be introduced to the Montreal media on Monday.
Please take our poll. Do you think Thierry henry can be successful in Montreal?
As Montreal Impact head coach, Thierry Henry will be ....
This poll is closed
... a success
... a failure
... jury’s out. Not sure.