Archive for December 4th, 2006

Thierry/Wenger clash is just about passion

47 comments December 4th, 2006

The newspapers are full of reports of a row between captain Thierry Henry and manager Arsene Wenger, chiefly over the decision to leave Henry out of Saturday’s North London derby.  However, what’s clear to me is that both parties only have the club’s best interests at heart.

Henry is upset because he wanted to play in a fixture that means a lot to him.  Yes, he is suffering with a sciatic nerve problem that could deteriorate if he doesn’t get some rest, but he feels he could’ve played through the pain.  He shouldn’t have stormed out of Colney on Friday, but he has apologised.  The second issue is that of whether or not Henry was right to have such a visible presence on Saturday.  Well, what is certainly true is that had he not turned up to the game, the press reaction would’ve been much stronger and much more negative.  Indeed, he played a captain’s role and showed his support for his replacement, Adebayor, who certainly appreciated Henry’s actions.

It has been said many times that Henry is a very media-savvy individual.  Maybe, but why must we continue to percieve that as a negative thing?  His intelligent actions on Saturday helped stop this teacup-located storm becoming a tornado.

As for Arsene, we can all understand his frustrations.  Henry is fatigued and out of form at a time when his manager needs him most.  He has had to take the decision to rest his striker in the hope that he will regain his previous excellence upon his return.  However, what he doesn’t need is for his captain to abruptly leave the training ground after hearing this.

Ultimately, both men want what’s best for Arsenal: Henry wants to play and score goals, whereas Wenger wants his captain at the top of his form whilst giving him a rest whilst winning every game.  Arsene icily said on Saturday:

“We have a good relationship and will have one again.”

So yes, he admits things are difficult now.  But hopefully in “a month, maybe a month-and-a-half”, Wenger and Henry will be in harmony again, both personally and professionally, and all for our benefit.

Perhaps Henry could look at the example of Jens Lehmann: too secure of his place in the side and lacking sharpness, Lehmann was dropped from the team for Manuel Almunia almost exactly two years ago.  And funnily enough, it was just before a big game against Chelsea (in this year’s re-enactment, Emmanuel Adebayor will be playing the part of Manuel Almunia).  Eventually Lehmann came back into the side and showed great resilience to return to his best form yet.

Elsewhere, Gilberto has been talking about taking penalties, and another Brazilian, Julio Baptista, wants more opportunities in the first team.  It was interesting that on Saturday he was brought on as a striker in a 4-4-2, a position which I feel suits him better than a deep midfield role.  With Rosicky and Henry out on Wednesday, his chances of starting the critical Porto tie are good.

French media reports suggest Lyon might be prepared to bid £8m for Niklas Bendtner, who is earning yet more praise at Birmingham.  Personally, I feel it’s a shame we’ve agreed to let him stay there for a full year: we could do with another option up-front.  Either way, there’s no chance whatsoever of him being sold.

And finally, on the day of the FA Cup 3rd Round Draw, Chelsea got Macclesfield at home, and we got Liverpool away.  There’s no justice…

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