Arsene Wenger gave Thierry Henry the choice: either he quit his job as pundit on Sky Sports to focus solely on his job as assistant manager of Arsenal’s U-18s, or he’d lose his role within Arsenal’s academy.
Henry has responded by leaving the club, choosing to maintain his role on television along with its £4 million-a-year paycheck.
Arsenal’s all time record goalscorer had been completing his UEFA Pro License at the club, the final coaching qualification available, giving rise to rumors that he'd someday replace Wenger.
Henry had been offered the chance to coach the U-18s by Andries Jonker, head of Arsenal’s academy. However, Wenger intervened to deliver his ultimatum on the grounds that it’s unfair to critically analyze the club you work for on TV.
Henry had initially accepted Jonker’s offer, but he’s now been forced to leave the club.
Henry had been touted as a possible manager of the future for Arsenal having spent nine years as a player there. He’s also been immortalized in the form of a statue outside the Emirates Stadium.
However, Henry, who’d previously drawn the ire of Wenger for comments he’d made about Arsenal on Sky, will now spend all of his time in the television studio.
“I would like to thank Andries Jonker for offering me the chance to coach the U18’s at Arsenal, which I was honored to accept,” Henry said on Twitter. “However I respect Arsene Wenger’s decision and I want to wish their manager Kwame Ampadu, the boys and everyone at the club all the best for the forthcoming season.”
It’s disappointing for everyone to see Henry leave Arsenal, especially with the idea of him replacing Wenger being such a romantic notion. It’s difficult to blame Henry or Wenger for this having transpired — both certainly have good reasons for this being the necessary outcome.
For Wenger, he’s simply protecting his club, players and, to some degree, Henry.
Henry is “settling” for £4 million-a-year with Sky Sports, and he’s undoubtedly aware of the difficulty of professional management, especially for former pundits. He needn’t look further than Gary Neville’s troubles at Valencia, Alan Shearer with Newcastle United and Roy Keane with Sunderland to steer clear of managing.
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