Tag Archives: Thierry Henry

Would Bergkamp or Henry have survived the “Twitter era”

Yesterday I wrote about “The mystifying criticism of Matteo Guendouzi”.

The jist of the article was simple.

19-year-old Matteo Guendouzi ran the game against Newcastle. No play had more touches, no player played more passes, and only Aaron Ramsey had a great pass accuracy. Despite this, and Arsenal winning 2-0, some fans went on Twitter to criticise him immediately after the final whistle.

Two responses to the Guendouzi blog got me thinking.

It is frustrating about how kick we get on the back of youngsters who are still making their way in the world. They are given no time to develop, to establish themselves in the first team. People, and mainly Arsenal fans, expect every teenager to already be as good as Cesc Fabregas. It is a high bar.

I can not think of any teenage midfielder to have been good as Cesc Fabregas when he first came through. And there will probably never be one. If we are using his ability as the bar to what is good enough, we are setting unrealistic expectations of these young lads coming through.

One of the reasons why fans get on these young lads backs quickly is Twitter.

Again, absolutely spot on.

Twitter has changed the way fans view game. It has provided a platform of instant response, which in turn leads to an increase in expectation.

Every poor performance is Tweeted about thousands of times. Fans on the players backs the second the final whistle has blown.

Twitter, social media and 24 rolling news has put us in a “fast food era”. Everything has to be immediate, now, perfect. There is no room to develop, no room to progress, no time for someone to have a poor game.

It makes me wonder whether Dennis Bergkamp and Thierry Henry would have survived the Twitter era.

Bergkamp joined Arsenal in 1995 on the back of a poor campaign with Inter Milan for a club record £7.5million. Inter Milan shipped him out, happy to get rid. Nearly 25-years-later, people would be moaning on Twitter that we had spent a club record on another sides reject. A flop.

The media were on Bergkamp’s back from the day he signed, with Alan Sugar quoted as saying “If Bergkamp thinks he’s gonna set the world alight he can forget it.”

The start of his Arsenal career would have gotten even more people on his back in the current era, as he failed to score in his 1st 6 games of the club.

At this point fans would have been all over social media calling him an expensive flop. Media outlets would be running stories of “the worst signing in the history of the game” and Sky would have spent an hour discussing his poor acquisition on the Sunday Supplement,

Bergkamp went on to become an Arsenal legend and is one of the greatest players to grace the English game.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

Like Bergkamp, Henry arrived from Italy after a poor season. This time for Juventus.

He only spent a year at Juventus, who dumped him after just 3 goals in his 19 appearances. Pace to burn, he struggled to defensively disciplined teams in Serie A.

He joined Arsenal for a club record fee (like Bergkamp).

If we bring his transfer into the modern era, fans would have been on Twitter moaning that we had spent a club record fee on an ineffectual winger. At 22-years-old, he certainly was not a youngster. What a waste of money, fans would have said.

And imagine the outrage when it transpired that Arsene Wenger was planning to use this average winger as a striker, as a replacement for Nicolas Anelka – the most exciting teenage striker on the planet.

And mirroring Bergkamp, he struggled in his opening games.

In 1999 blogging was a new thing. The internet was a new concept. But even back then there were Arsenal blogs. And I recall one slating Henry and Wenger. Bemoaning the fact that Arsenal had gone big on a failed winger and were not playing him upfront.

Had this happened in 2019 rather than 1999, this complaining would have been many times louder, many times more viscous. You would have had people offering to drive him back to France.

Henry’s first 8 games went by with 2 yellow cards and no goals. He finally broke his drought against Southampton – also the side that Bergkamp scored his first goal against.

Imagine in the current era, Arsenal spending a club record fee on a winger who had flopped in Italy, converting him to a striker and then watching him struggle to score in his first 8 games. There would be uproar.

Henry went on to become Arsenal’s record goal scorer and one of the greatest players the world has seen.

Both Bergkamp and Henry arrived at Arsenal having flopped in Italy. Both for club record fees. Both endured tough starts to their Arsenal career. I doubt either of them would have been given the chance to shine, to become the legends they are, if they were signed now.

Fans would have been on their back before they had even kicked a ball.

Keenos

Manchester United “killed” the FA Cup, Pochettino fails again, Arsenal transfer news and Henry disappoints

FA Cup 4th round tonight as Arsenal face Manchester United.

There is a bed sheet going round on Twitter which states “Friday night TV, 4000 stolen tickets, The FA + Arsenal killing the FA Cup”.

Whilst I understand the sentiment and frustration of the fan, it is extremely misguided.

The FA have not done much to help the FA Cup. They have sold their soul to TV companies at home and abroad meaning that we now have Friday night and Monday night games. In the 3rd round, games were moved from 3pm to lunchtime despite not being on UK TV. This was to give foreign broadcasters a wider choice on who to show.

The rest of the banner is laughable.

Let’s take the tickets firstly.

Manchester United have not given 15% allocation for years. They have hidden behind health and safety and supported by the FA, so to talk about “stolen tickets” is a joke. Maybe they should petition their own club first to give away fans the right and proper ticket allocation?

Once Man U begins doing so, they might find other clubs doing the same to them.

Also he needs to question his fellow fans.

One of the problems at the Emirates is club level and executive boxes between upper and lower tier. This means that on FA Cup games, you could have away fans above and below Arsenal fans in the middle. This would be OK if fans could behave themselves, but they can not.

There have been numerous stories over the years of fans in club level being spat on, coins being thrown and, disgustingly, cups of urine dropped from the upper tier. If you can not behave yourself, do not expect to get a full ticket allocation.

As for killing the FA Cup, let me take your mind back to 1999.

Manchester United had just won the Champions League, completing a historic treble. They were due to take part in the inaugural World Team Championship. It take place between the 4th and 15th of January, meaning that they would miss FA Cup 3rd Round day.

Mancheaster United accepted an offer from the FA to not play in the cup.

The FA wanted United to play in the new tournament in Brazil – because they believe it could aid England’s 2006 World Cup bid. England lost their bid and Man U did not even make it out of their group.

It was that day the cup died.

Both Man U and the FA decided that the competition was low priority. That teams could just “skip” it to play elsewhere. So if United fans want someone to blame for “killing the FA Cup”, by all means blame the FA, but also blame your own club.

Manchester United are more to blame for the dying FA Cup than any other side.

In other news Tottenham confirmed it would be 11 years without a trophy last night as they crashed out of the League Cup to Chelsea.

I had to laugh during the game as the caption came up on the screen when Sky showed Maurico Pochettino and Maurizio Sarri.

Pochettino’s said “252nd game in charge of Spurs” whilst Sarri’s said “Still yet to win his first major honour”. It was the same captions in the first league.

This highlights the pro-Tottenham agenda within the media.

Yes, Sarri is still looking for his first major honour, but so is Pochettino. Why is it relevant to mention it about the Chelsea manager, but not the Tottenham? It is almost like the media are trying to hide the fact the Pochettino is in his 10th season as a manager, his 5th at Spurs, and has nothing to show for it.

As for those saying “he is only 46”. Well before Unai Emery is only 47-years-old. At 46 he had already won 3 Europa League’s with Sevilla and 7 trophies with PSG in France.

It is clear who the serial winner is…

Arsenal have been lined with PSG central midfielder Christopher Nkunku.

I would normally have written this off as his agent linking his client with Arsenal to get him in the British press – with the hope of a move to a Premier League club. However the move has been confirmed by David Ornstein.

A few have said “but what abut Ainsley Maitland-Niles”., and they do have a point.

On paper Nkunku and Maitland-Niles do seem similar. Central midfielders who are versatile, and the same age. But we should not see it as Nkunku replacing Maitland-Niles, but repalcing Ramsey.

Emery clearly likes playing 3 central midfielders. As it stands we have Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka, Matteo Guendouzi, Mohamed Elneny and Maitland-Niles. We ideally need 6 if we are going to play 3, so we need to buy.

Rather than go for an ageing talent in Ever Banega, we are targeting a youngster with talent. This is the type of recruitment we need to get back to. Players under 25 who can develop, rather than on established players who command a high wage and have no sell on value.

And Nkunku would also be a replacement for Elneny.

We get Nkunku, we then have 4 central midfielders who are 22 or under – with Xhaka the elder statesman at just 26. It would then be an area of the park that we would not have to invest in for a couple of years.

Finally sad news from France.

Thierry Henry has been sacked by Monaco.

It does not come as much of a surprise. Monaco was a sinking ship having got into bed again with Jorge Mendes. They moved away from what had won them the league – signing and developing bright young talent – and returned to signing ageing has-beens.

It was a tough job for Henry to take. One that he was always likely to struggle at. He has not helped himself with some of his comments, however you can see his frustration with some of the overpaid senior players.

Some people are saying “thank god we didn’t employ Henry” but to judge him on his first job would not make sense.

Henry clearly loves the game, and has a lot to give. Monaco was just the wrong job.

He could do with going to a club filled with young talent, where he can develop that talent – both the bodies and mind. A bit like what Frank Lampard is doing at Derby. I hope he gets another chance.

Keenos

Freddie Ljungberg – Heir Apparent?

As reported by the brilliant Jeorge Bird over on his Arsenal Youth blog Freddie Ljungberg has been coaching senior training sessions alongside Unai Emery in the international break.

Over the years, there has been plenty of moaning and bitching that Arsenal do not have enough former players still around the club as coaches. There was a time it felt like some fans wanted Arsene Wenger’s coaching staff to contain about 30 ex-players.

The rise of Freddie Ljungberg highlights just what an ex-player can achieve if they have the desire, motivation and ability to become a top coach.

Ljungberg rejoined Arsenal in an ambassadorial role in 2013. 3 years later it was confirmed that he would be joining Arsenal’s Academy coaching Arsenal’s Under-15s.

He was starting in a lowly position overseeing the U15s. He did not expect to walk straight in as a first team coach, or overseeing the U21s. He did not complain, he did not have an enflated ego, he just got on with things.

After the appointment of Andries Jonker as the new manager for VfL Wolfsburg in early 2017, it was announced that Ljungberg would be leaving The Arsenal to join him as his assistant.

After  the departure of coaches in May 2018 following the departure of Arsene it was announced that Ljungberg would return as the U23 coach. Overseeing the side in the Premier League 2 development league.

Under Ljungberg, the U23’s – actually made up of mainly U19’s – have been in impressive form. Currently on a 6 game unbeaten run. They sit 2nd in the league.

Ljungberg has worked his way up from the bottom and is potentially putting himself in prime position to succeed Unai Emery.

Patrick Vieira, Tony Adams and Thierry Henry are the 3 most high profile former players that many fans said should still be at the club. All 3 had the opportunity to do what Ljungberg did, but all chose a different path.

Upon retirement, Vieira took up an extremely well paid job as Manchester City’s Football Development Executive. It was basically a job with no real role. He was basically a glorified club ambassador for which he was paid handsomely for – much more than he would get as a junior coach at Arsenal.

In simple terms, Vieira still had a year left on his contract when he retired, and Man City honoured that last year by giving him the highly paid meaningless job. It was only a couple of years later he went down the coaching route.

Arsenal never really offered him work at the club. He was playing for Manchester City when he retired, and took up his new role with the club the day he called it quits. He stayed at City, rather than seek employment elsewhere, for the money.

Then we have Thierry Henry.

He was offered the U18 managers job, but only wanted to do it part time so that it did not interfere with his Sky punditry work.

You can not really be a part-time manager at youth level.

The U18’s tend to play at weekends. Was Henry really proposing that he would coach players during the week, and then on game-day would be sitting in the Sky studio watching Stoke v Burnley instead of being on the touchline?

It was never going to work.

Tony Adams was always an odd one. He has been offered numerous coaching roles at Arsenal but has always turned them down. My feeling is he looks down at the junior roles. He wants a senior role, with the first team, or nothing.

The problem is his coaching career to date has shown him to be an average coach at best. Is he really good enough to expect to just walk straight into a senior role? Why does he think coaching the U18’s (a job he turned down) was below him?

Vieira, Henry and Adams all had their own reasons not to be working at Arsenal. If they wanted to, they could have all been part of the coaching set up, but it was their decision to not take a job.

Arsenal should not bow down to their demands, whether it is financially, job roles of flexi-time, just because they are legends.

Ljungberg is doing things the right way. Taking small steps up the ladder. He certainly has a bright future ahead.

Keenos