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17th Feb 2019

Arsene Wenger backs Thierry Henry to succeed as a manager despite Monaco sacking

Kyle Picknell

Thierry Henry was sacked as Monaco boss in January

Thierry Henry’s first job as manager didn’t exactly go to plan as the Frenchman was sacked by Monaco in late January and replaced by the man he originally came in for – Leonardo Jardim. His record at the club of 4 wins, 5 draws, and 11 defeats from 20 games in charge, as well as the team’s league position at the time of his departure (19th), make damning reading, but don’t tell the whole story of his time in charge.

At least not according to his former manager, Arsene Wenger, who thinks Henry’s failure was down to the perilous situation he was initially placed in.

“If you arrive in October, and the team is in a very bad position, you have three months. Because in January everybody starts to become nervous that things could go very badly,” Wenger said.

“You have less time when you arrive in the middle of the season. That is what happened to Thierry.  How he bounces back will be very important. I think he has the quality and desire to make a career, and a career is judged on the longer period.”

Wenger himself endured a difficult spell at the start of his managerial career too, as he was relegated from Ligue 1 in his final season as Nancy manager with the club finishing in 19th place.

“I started my job at 33 years of age, I had very promising people around me, and many of them disappeared while some survived. Why? You need luck, and to work hard and it’s always very difficult to predict a career of a manager.”

He admitted that it largely depends “on the quality of the players and the confidence we get”, perhaps referring to the Nancy board who sold many of his team’s best players due to a precarious financial situation.

Fortunately, things turned around for Wenger after his contract with Nancy was mutually terminated after the team’s relegation, allowing him to leave and join Monaco, with whom he won the league in his debut season.

It appears that more than anything, he is proud of the philosophy he has instilled in his former players, who are now acting it out in their own coaching careers. On Henry and his former skipper Patrick Vieira, who now manages OGC Nice, he concluded: “It’s very good for me to see that players I had continue to share our game with people and develop young players.”

Arsene Wenger was speaking in Monaco, where the Indian sport for development programme Yuwa – an organisation which uses football to empower young girls in rural Jharkhand to overcome violence and child marriage – was announced as the 2019 Laureus Sport for Good Award winner.