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I awoke to the news that Roberto Martinez has appointed Thierry Henry as one of his assistant coaches for the Belgian national side. “That’s a bad idea”, I thought. Here’s why:
1 – Thierry Henry was fast-tracked through his coaching badges in controversial manner by the Welsh FA. A little like Gary Neville at Valencia, Henry is being offered a job he hasn’t merited and does not have the experience for. What’s being reinforced here is the notion that if you have a big enough name you need not jump through the same hoops as everybody else.
2 – In addition, by choosing his lucrative SKY punditing job over coaching the Arsenal Under 18 team, Henry displayed where his priorities lie. Yes, he one day wants to be a manager but he also really likes his cushy television job, and that’s fair enough. But it’s not a decision that should be rewarded with a coaching position with one of the world’s best national teams.
3 – This is a fairly transparent ploy by Martinez to win over some of his players. He isn’t popular with Lukaku and Mirallas and he knows this. But he needs them on side and he can’t allow their uncertainty about him to spread. Henry is a human olive branch. Hey, I know you aren’t a huge fan of me but here, this guy is cool, you like and respect him, right? Look what I gave you! It feels as though Martinez is trying to be cool by association.
4 – There is a pretty decent chance that at least some of the players will like and respect Henry more than they do Martinez, which will undermine the Catalan’s authority and make the management team somewhat farcical. Indeed, this may be trivial but in his role as a pundit, Henry has even shown his disbelief at things Martinez has said in the past. Watch the Frenchman’s totally understandable reaction to Martinez’s claims that “Gareth Barry is one of the best players England have had”.
5 – Belgium need a defensive coach more than anything else. Henry will join in addition to Graeme Jones, who was Martínez’s assistant at Everton, Wigan and Swansea and fitness coach Richard Evans who has followed the same career path. Who will teach them how to defend as a team? It sure isn’t any of this lot.
I leave you with a quote from Roberto Martinez on Thierry Henry, as reported in the Guardian.
“Thierry brings something completely different. He’s someone who has been in the situation of having to develop a mentality in a team of chasing the dream of winning something special for his country.”
Is there anything that sums up Martinez more than “chasing a dream”?