The Second Coming?
When Thierry Henry started training with us again I dismissed the idea of his return as fanciful. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see him pull on the red and white again but thought it was just gossip stemming from his return to the training ground – a gesture which was nothing more than a favour from his old boss. The weeks have passed and it now seems that our record goal scorer has been offered a short term contract. The ball is now in Henry’s court.
From a purely sentimental point of view, I doubt there are many of us that don’t want him back. He is quite simply our greatest ever player and to see him trot out at The Emirates would be amazing. Sure, it would be amazing but our memories of what he achieved in years gone by wouldn’t guarantee success this time.
One of the main concerns from fans seems to be the fact that we need a more long term solution. Henry for six weeks – two months tops – is all well and good but when he jets back to the big apple we are again left with an over burdened RVP, a misfiring Chamakh and the so far anonymous Park.
Firstly, I totally agree that we need a full time, top class striker. I wouldn’t necessarily argue that signing another striker is out of the question but I do think it’s harder than it seems. Knowing you need someone, as I’m sure Wenger does, is far easier than actually signing them, especially in January.
Lukas Podolski has been a popular name recently, with good reason. He’s a proven international in top form. This season his 14 goals are the difference between Cologne sitting mid table and fighting relegation.
Looking at it that way, if you were the Cologne management would you sell him now or would you wait, guarantee your top flight future and sort things out in the summer? This is the problem we face when attempting to sign any striker worth investing in long term.
Signing Henry on loan means that we have immediate cover and therefore a bit more space to try and negotiate a deal for a permanent acquisition. If we dismissed Henry on the proviso that he’s not here for good we could be in a situation where RVP gets a knock and we have only Park to cover him. At the very least, with Henry around for a short spell, there is experience to call on.
From the reports I’ve heard, from people who’ve seen him at the training ground, he has impressed the management and playing staff immensely. It’s only training but it’s a signal that he has something left to give. There is an understandable concern that at 34 he is no longer the physical specimen he once was. Of course, he’s unlikely to pull off any of those slaloming 50 yard dribbles through a sea of lunging legs but he does still have the little turn of pace and the presence of mind that he used to have. His technique has not diminished either.
There is a bit of a misapprehension in this country that players end up in the MLS because they can’t cut it anywhere else. Henry, like Beckham before him, went to the MLS for a decent payday and, in no small part, because both New York and LA are nice places to live. Both of these big names could have gone elsewhere, to the Premier League even, but they chose the States. Don’t think that everything else was beyond them.
My thoughts on Henry when I watched him last season were that he didn’t look particularly inspired. He’d lost a bit of fire, not ability. When NYRB were looking for a way back into a game, as they often were, Henry would generally oblige. If he had something to excite or challenge him, flickers of the old Henry were there.
To further contest this idea that Henry is definitely past it is simply to add that Wenger does appear to think that he’s up to it. Wenger knows him and will have followed his career since he moved to the States. He will have watched him at London Colney, spoken to him, spoken to his coaches, his medical staff and apparently come to the conclusion that he’s a worthwhile addition. That’s good enough for me.
I sincerely believe that he could rediscover his desire at Arsenal and give us six good weeks. I think his return would be a good thing now because we have holes to fill up front. I was against his return when it was lazily mooted last time he trained with us for the simple fact that we didn’t really need anyone then. There is no need to shoe-horn an old player into a squad that has no gaps but as it stands we are light up front.
We still have to wait and see if Henry decides to take up the offer and if NYRB are happy to let him return. Beckham’s trips to Europe scuppered part of his early season playing time for LA so maybe his current employers won’t be so keen.
Whilst I fully appreciate that the re-signing of Thierry Henry won’t solve our long term problems up front, it will add an experienced head with real passion for the club and, as I said above, it will buy the manager some time to try and negotiate a permanent deal elsewhere. I think it would be misguided to expect the Henry of old but equally, it would be wrong to dismiss him entirely. When it comes to Henry and Wenger, I’m willing to believe there’s still something worth getting excited about.
Keep The Faith.