Thierry Henry - will the manager be as successful as the player?

Thierry Henry looks set to become Aston Villa manager

As a lot of news outlets have indicated that Thierry Henry will be the next man to take the hot-seat at Villa Park, plenty of neutral fans have questioned whether he'll be cut out for a high-pressure job in the Championship, with just as many football fans seeing him as being the ideal man to take on such a colossal challenge.

It seemed like it would be easy to get Aston Villa back to their rightful place in the Premier League but the estimated £87 million spent on incoming transfers since their relegation in 2016 hasn't been enough to get them close to a return. They could only get to thirteenth in the first attempt, then making it to fourth last season but now find themselves stuck at fifteenth, so it appears that there's more to fix than merely opening their wallet again in January. The Frenchman was an incredible goalscorer for Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and France, but whether he can turn around the fortunes of the West Midlands club is a completely different question.

Influence on the game and an enthusiasm to learn his trade

Being a fantastic player doesn't always indicate that you're set to be a top manager - see Diego Maradona, Alan Shearer, Edgar Davids, Tony Adams and Gianfranco Zola as worthy examples - so it's hard to automatically rate Thierry Henry's chances based on his legendary status as a player in years gone by. The way he's approached the concept of stepping into management has shown some calculation, especially with a lot of former players cockily assuming they're ready to jump straight into a managerial role without any experience of coaching players in any capacity.

Henry started work as one of the coaches for the Belgium national team in 2016, where a lot of players hailed his influence, hinting that their place in the World Cup Semi-Finals was partly down to him. Intensity as a coach for Belgium led Henry to leaving his duties as a pundit with Sky Sports. He admitted that he was focusing on being a manager and, despite the position at Aston Villa seeming like a hefty task for a man who's yet to work as a manager at any level, Frank Lampard has certainly had a strong start in charge of fellow-Championship side Derby County, where he's spent less time preparing than the former Arsenal number 14.

Thierry Henry Romelu Lukaku Belgium Football
Thierry Henry became a favourable Second Assistant Coach for Belgium at the World Cup, which had a hand in improving Romelu Lukaku's clinical finishing.

Is Henry ready to step into the spotlight as Villa manager?

As we've learned from seeing Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp in a closer view over the past few seasons, managers bare their soul on the touchline, showing not only the joy which comes from winning games, but the nasty side from not getting exactly what you want. The genius of Pep Guardiola has also been met by some childishness when he first took on the role, and the wacky 'mad uncle' which we expected from Jurgen Klopp has dovetailed with someone who's capable of losing their cool with the linesman when the gameplan isn't completely working. Thierry Henry has always been a calm and collected figure, whether it be as a footballer, pundit, or in his infamous car adverts, but we're likely to see all sides to him as soon as he dons the trademark manager tracksuit.

This isn't a reason for him to disregard the opportunity but it's definitely something you can't undo if things don't work out in the first attempt. The Aston Villa job is an extremely difficult one too, with such a focus on them returning to the Premier League in the first possible instant. Frank Lampard is unlikely to have seen as much scrutiny at Derby County as, although they're looking for promotion like any other side, he will be aware that a top six finish will suffice, while Villa are expected to dominate the Championship after spending so much and now spending two years in the league below.

It's almost impossible to assess how impossible the Villa job might be and it says a lot that Steve Bruce struggled as much as he did. Bruce's issues at home make it hard to criticise him too much as he suffered the loss of both parents over the past twelve months. Even with that in mind, Villa's inability to return to the top tier of English football asks immediate questions over whether there's some underlying issues which prevent them from overthrowing the opposing sides who keep finding their way to the top two automatic promotion positions.

Arsene Wenger Thierry Henry Arsenal France
Learning from the master - Thierry Henry is likely to be influenced by the man who led him to silverware at Arsenal.

How far can Thierry Henry go as a football manager?

Some of the world's best footballers tried their hand as managers, only to fail miserably. There's been plenty of positive examples too, with Zinedine Zidane, Pep Guardiola, Didier Deschamps, Kenny Dalglish, Antonio Conte, Diego Simeone, Fabio Capello, Frank Rijkaard, Jupp Heynckes, Vicente Del Bosque, Carlo Ancelotti, Johan Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Giovanni Trapattoni being just a few who were able to match their success both as a player and a manager.

Thierry Henry falls into the category of world class players and he's made the right moves to sensibly ease into management, so how he leads his future team is completely up to him rather than a lack of knowledge or understanding. John Terry played for Aston Villa last season but announced his intention to retire on Sunday evening, with it being more than fair to assume that he might be open to assisting Henry if he seals the Villa job as expected.

Currently offering odds of 1/10 for Thierry Henry to become Aston Villa manager, it's expected that he will be announced shortly, with it being an exciting prospect to most Villa fans after considering his influence and conduct since retiring from playing back in 2014. He's always been a man to shy away from controversy and embrace any criticism with a half-hearted joke or by facing the issue head on, with the only exception being the arguably intentional handball against Republic Of Ireland in a 2010 World Cup qualifier. Pep Guardiola proved that possessing a charismatic, passionate and calculated approach makes an easier transition from player to manager and with Henry joining him with all of those traits, we can't help but lick our lips at the thought of the former striker being an inspiring figure behind the touchline over future years.

Thierry Henry Aston Villa Belgium World Cup 2018
Whatever your opinion of Henry, his ambition and work ethic is admirable.

What are you opinions on Thierry Henry and Aston Villa? Let us know on Twitter by tweeting us at @FootyAccums.


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