All Guns Blazing: Arsenal should celebrate Henry’s past, but wait on his future

Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry (left) listens to Jamie Carragher. Picture: PA/Mike Egerton

Sky Sports pundit Thierry Henry (left) listens to Jamie Carragher. Picture: PA/Mike Egerton - Credit: EMPICS Sport

In our weekly Arsenal fan column, Alex Bellotti says it’s too early to annoint Thierry Henry as the chosen one.

Thirty-eight is hardly the most momentous of ages, but you’d be forgiven for thinking it is, given the huge outpouring of goodwill directed to Thierry Henry on his birthday this week.

Rarely needing a solid basis for inspiration, was quick to roll out tributes to the legendary striker – as it often does on the anniversary of his signing, the anniversary of his landmark goals, the anniversary of his return on loan…you get the picture.

Gooners’ love affair with the Frenchman, as it were, is quite understandable. He always polls as our greatest ever player, and considering his heyday at the club coincided with the dawn of the internet, it’s no surprise web tributes resonate particularly with the clicky fingers of millennial Gunners.

While I’m all for celebrating our history – it’s what separates us from those blue bus-parkers down the road – there is however something that feels over the top about such relentless fetishising of Henry. Perhaps because it often feels like we’re celebrating his future as much as his past.

Henry’s desire to return to Arsenal as manager is well documented. Currently studying for his badges at the club, his route to the top seems as meticulously assembled as Mikel Arteta’s hair.

And how wonderful would it be? We’ve all seen what Pep Guardiola did at his beloved Barcelona; and beneath all the sexism, racism, anti-semitism and general bigotry, football fans are really quite romantic creatures. We want the next chapter of our great love story.

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The only problem, as Uche Amako pointed out in the column here last year, is that as a pundit, Henry often risks the ire of Arsenal fans with reckless comments about our current team. I would go one further: he’s just not a very good analyst.

He gets away with a lot because of that suave, smooth accent, but relay them through an Andy Townsend voice translator and it becomes decidedly less sexy. Often prone to cliché or passive agreement with his colleagues, you wonder how such ideas would translate on the training ground, where clarity, originality and a razor-sharp eye for tactics are key ingredients for success.

This isn’t to say he would be a bad manager – it’s really too early to tell anything, so by that logic we shouldn’t be so eager to anoint him the chosen one either.

By all means let’s celebrate the past, but why not wait for the future to reveal its cards?

Follow me @alexbellotti

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