Henry endorses Arteta amid comparisons to Ferguson and Wenger…


There was a time not so long ago when many Gooners were pining for Thierry Henry to return to the Arsenal a third time, this time as coach. Thankfully, that never came to pass. There’s something about being transcendent that can make it hard to transmit to lesser players. Anyway, in his time as a pundit, Henry hasn’t minced his words regarding Arteta. Recently, however, he sat down with another legend, David Seaman, to give Arteta his seal of approval. If a player as legendary as Henry speaks, surely, even Arteta’s critics will have to pause for a moment to consider listening? We shall see…

Here’s what he said to Seaman:

One of the best things we did at Arsenal was to keep Mikel.

Gotta love that “we”. Goosebumps, Gooners. Goosebumps. Anyway, to call this “one of the best things we did” is high praise indeed. Keep in mind that, on some level or another, Henry might feel some lingering disappointment, maybe even resentment, at being passed over. That may go some way to explaining his earlier, harsher assessments. I’m speculating, of course. I don’t know Henry’s thoughts or feelings. Let’s stick to what’s easier to suss out. He went on to offer a comparison to Alex Ferguson, Arsène, and Klopp with this bit:

Sir Alex, we all know he was on the verge of getting the sack.
Arsène didn’t wint right from the start. Klopp didn’t win from
the start. It took him 3.5 years to build a team.

There’s a whiff of a suggestion there that Arteta will go on to follow in the footsteps of those managers. They each struggled only to emergy as stunningly successful managers, two of them retiring as legends of the game. Klopp may fall short due to both the difficulty of staying on as a manager at one club for more than two decades and also the misfortune of being so successful right as Guardiola arrived at Man City. In a parallel universe somewhere, Liverpool have won at least a treble and perhaps a quadruple [shudder]. Speaking of Guardiola, Henry added this:

MIkel, only Pep won right from the start a treble.

It’s hard to compete with that. A side that is deep enough and talented enough to do that is going to be hard to stay above. Could Arteta have rotated his players more creatively? Perhaps. Should he have anticipated injuries disrupting our run-in just as they had done the season before? Sure, but that would have been Promethean. Then again, he didn’t have quite as many options at his disposal as he might have liked.

Even without those players, Arteta’s vision for how he wanted to play. There were too many square pegs. As players like Ramsdale, White, Tomiyasu, and Ødegaard joined the fold, that vision began to crystallize. We’d play out from the back thanks to Ramsdale. Ødegaard would play from the right as an inverted 10 of sorts while White got up the pitch to link with Saka. Partey joined, and Xhaka was no longer shoehorned in a #6 role he was never suited to fill in the first place. And on and on, and here we are, having fallen just shorted of winning the Prem with our highest points total and goals scored in a generation.

For Henry to come around to seeing the progress we’ve made under Arteta isn’t prima facie evidence that Arteta’s critics should shut their pieholes, but it should be compelling enough to encourage them to pump the brakes on what frequently amounts to knee-jerk refusal to acknowledge that Arteta has brought this club quite a lot closer to where we hope, expect, or even insist we should be.

For myself, I know that I’m frequently guilty of some Panglossian optimism. However, I’m also capable and even willing of calling him on the carpet, not that he’d ever read a word I ever write. Henry has apparently received new information, weighed it, and adjusted his assessment. Fancy that.

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5 thoughts on “Henry endorses Arteta amid comparisons to Ferguson and Wenger…

    1. Jon Shay Post author

      true, I’m just reacting to Henry’s assessment. He’s speaking off the cuff and may have been unaware of the achievement having joined the club several years later.

  1. A Simple Truth

    I have nothing but adoration for Henry the player, but his endorsement means functionally little in the grand scheme of things…he’s clearly been humbled by his inability to rise through the managerial ranks, which has undoubtedly played a role in his relatively newfound softened stance on Arteta the manager…one need not be a rocket scientist to understand how his deeper understanding of his now chosen profession, especially after his brief and much-maligned Monaco stint, might have resulted in him assuming a more empathetic and/or complimentary tone…the fact that Arteta both manages he’s beloved former club and came in second last season has simply fueled his already positive-leaning inclinations

    I think it’s important to note that my opinion of our manager was vastly different early on, as I was willing to give him ample runway so long as he was singularly focused on reinventing our tired old wheel, but his actions immediately following our rather fortuitous FA victory were what ultimately led me down my present path…far too often he’s been short-sighted, selfish and tactically naive and I truly believe if it weren’t for the unprecedented spending, the typically hands-off approach of our absentee landlord and the reemergence of a very Wengerian-like cult of personality movement he would have been ousted some time ago

    regardless of the above comments, I want nothing but the best for our club, so if he can somehow find a way to steer us to the top of the footballing heap, I’ll gladly eat my proverbial hat…that said, it’s my belief that the only way we can possibly achieve those heights is if we brought in enough extraordinarily talented players so as to actually overcome our managerial shortcomings…this might seem rather harsh to some and even blasphemous to others, but considering all the settling nonsense we’ve endured over the past two decades, I will gladly take any flack that comes my way in order to voice my honest opinions regarding all club-related matters…Cheers

  2. Palladio43

    This season and maybe next will probably determine Arteta’s future at Arsenal. He has, within the financial guidelines and competition from the wealthier or more aggressive clubs, amassed a team that should succeed and go further than his prior sides. Admittedly they are perfect given lack of a superlative striker and a few other weaknesses, but, on paper they are better than most of their opponents. We have already lost one good player for the year (giving MA at least next year, if needed), but every team has at least one major injury, if not more, each year.
    Thus, given that every other side also has holes in their team, the determining factor as to success is the manager. It is his job to organize, develop strategies that work for his team in each match, that sets the lineup, that adjust as the game progresses, makes astute and timely substitutions, and establishes who we buy and why, sell, loan out, or otherwise forms a winning attitude, strategy, and culture.
    Team’s may certainly vary in quality, mostly due to funds, but, in the main, parity exists between those between about fourth and fourteenth places and it falls upon the manager to be the difference maker. Consequently, if we fail and fall or succeed and rise much more than a few places in the table, he takes the credit or the blame. He came close last year but never reached the top in any competition. Now it is a new season with what should be a better team. Unlike Sisyphus, he cannot blame the gods if he slides back nor will he be forgiven and allowed to continue endlessly as even the sainted AW learned.

  3. A Simple Truth

    on a side note, just wanted to say that I was wrong when it came to my assessment of the Jesus injury scenario, as it looks like he might be available for tomorrow…my bad…kudos to MA for keeping it real on this occasion…hopefully he will bring some much-needed one touch play and finishing qualities up top


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