Over the past week, Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was touted to acquire his first senior managerial role and become the boss at a newly-owned Aston Villa football club.
Just a week prior to that he was the assistant to Roberto Martinez’s Belgium team at the world cup, with the Red Devils of Europe making it to the Semi-Final, where they were defeated by eventual winners France.
After besting England in the 3rd place play-off match, Henry was able to add the first medal of his post-playing football career to his collection.
The Arsenal forward, who played for the club from 1999 to 2007 and then again briefly in 2012, set the world of football alight during his playing days. Such a fan favourite was Henry, and such a clear passion he had for the club, that it seems nailed on that he has a future at the club should he want it.
Now 40 years old, Henry is seeing the cream of the crop the crop from his peak years move into management – to varying degrees of success.
Perhaps first of his generation was Roy Keane, who proved himself to be one of Manchester United’s greatest ever players. The midfielder then made the move to management, bringing Sunderland from relegation in the Championship to the Premier League in his debut season – what appeared to be a clear indication that Keane was able to transfer his playing ability to the dugout.
It wasn’t to be the case. His time at Sunderland ended in tumultuous circumstances and the spell at Ipswich Town proceeding it was similarly uninspiring. Since then, Keane has been rebuilding his managerial career in a similar fashion to the way Henry has started out – as an assistant manager – with Villa, incidentally – and then at international level with the Republic of Ireland.
Some people make the move to management and find out it isn’t for them. Gary Neville showed in his punditry duties for Sky Sports – alongside Henry in recent years – that he had an intricate knowledge of the game that looked a dead cert to transfer seamlessly to a management position. This couldn’t be further from true, as his spell in La Liga as Valencia manager showed – lasting just a few months in the job before getting the chop.
In other cases, this new breed of manager has been a roaring success – perhaps none more so than Henry’s former French teammate, Zinedine Zidane.
Zidane took over at his former club Real Madrid in 2016 and went on to win an unprecedented 3 consecutive Champions league trophies with the Spanish giants before leaving his post this Summer.
Perhaps it is looking at the likes of Zidane that has spurred Henry towards management – or indeed, it could be watching his former captain Arsenal Patrick Vieira make a name for himself in management circles over the past few years.
Whatever it is, it appears the time for Henry to throw himself headfirst into the world of top-level football management has arrived. The Frenchman stepped down from his punditry duties from Sky Sport with immediate effect following the World Cup, which appeared to be a clear indication he was prepared to dip his toes into the muddy waters of first-team coaching.
As it transpired, despite it being reported that Henry was set to take over from Steve Bruce at Aston Villa – with the Daily Star even going as far as to say he had verbally agreed a contract with the Birmingham club – it wasn’t to be, as it was today announced the club’s new owners had placed their complete faith in Bruce.
So, Villa isn’t to be Henry’s first big-time post-playing job, but it shows an indication of intent. During his time playing in England, two of the biggest players in the world were English midfielders Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard.
Gerrard opted to take the vacant post at Glasgow Rangers – a move that appears to be very risky, but if he is to have success, could definitely pave the way for a big move elsewhere.
Lampard, somewhat surprisingly, took on the managerial role at Derby County in the Championship. Derby are a side with a strong squad who have been sniffing around the play-offs of the second division for several years now. If the English midfielder can get the pieces to fall in place for him, he could very well have a successful season.
What both Gerrard and Lampard have that henry shared was exceptional playing talent – but as we have seen countless times, this doesn’t necessarily translate to managerial success.
The likes of Jose Mourinho, Rafa Benitez and indeed Arsene Wenger are proof that you don’t need to be an exceptional footballer to be a great manager – what’s more important is an understanding of the game.
On paper, Henry looks like he will make a good manager. The patience he showed in his training for the role since his retirement in 2014 – including taking on the role with Belgium – show he is not jumping into the first job that pops up.
He's the highest scoring non-English player in Premier League history, so it's fair to say that his reputation proceeds him. His passion for the game shone through in the way he played, and he brought success wherever he went - no more so than in Arsenal's Invincible 03/04 Premier League season, in which he played an integral part.
It looks very likely that the Frenchman will be in a job in the coming weeks. If it’s not by the start of the season, then you can expect his name to be heavily linked with every Premier League job where a managerial vacancy arises.
This is a risk in of itself – taking over a club that is likely already in jeopardy without a knowledge of the infrastructure or a pre-season to acclimatise can lead to disaster. With the season now just off 3 weeks from beginning – even less for the lower divisions – if Henry is to take on a role over the next few weeks, this is likely the situation he will be walking into.
His enormous link to Arsenal football club and the fans appreciation of him means that if can give a good account of himself as a manager with a different team, he could one day find himself in the hot-seat at the Emirates – and something about that just seems right.