How often does coaching news make you say, "hell yes!"? How often does the manager, not even someone who actually touches a ball, get you to turn on the TV?
Okay, admittedly it's more often than it used to be around the world. But it's still not something that happens often in Major League Soccer. The Montreal Impact, though, made everyone around North America shout a collective "LFG!" with their announcement of Thierry Henry as manager on November 14.
There are two parts to a coaching hire, and this one in particular.
First... Does the hire bring energy to the club? New managers can have the same impact as big player signings. They are a statement of intent and, more so, clout. The name recognition of your manager reflects the size of your brand.
For this answer, I refer you back to the "oh damn" that you let out when you first saw the news. As far as managerial hires, Henry might be in the top five most noteworthy options around the world; he probably sits behind Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp, Jose Mourinho and Miguel Herrera. Does that mean that he's as good or accomplished as them? Obviously not. It means that he's worth taking a chance on, even if it doesn't work out in the end.
Second... Can he or she help the team win games? At this point, it's tough to tell what Henry's managerial ability is. He has had two professional coaching jobs. The first came as an assistant to Roberto Martinez with the Belgian national team; Belgium finished third at the World Cup in Russia.
The second job came as head coach at Monaco in France's Ligue 1 and it did not go as planned. He inherited a struggling team and went 4W-11L-5D before getting fired after 20 games. Some will tell you that he took over a Monaco team destined for failure that season, others will suggest that he was in over his head as a first-time manager at a Champions League club.
It's hard to know exactly what happened, and thus it's hard to know where Henry stands as a head coach right now. He is still in the development stage of his coaching career. This is not Thierry "the best striker of his generation" Henry coming to Montreal. It's Thierry "here's my new business card" Henry arriving to Canada.
It's weird to think of the mighty Titi as an apprentice again, but it happens. We often overlook that managers need to grow just like players. You know what feeling when you see a promising 18-year-old and you want the coach to give him the opportunity to develop? That's Thierry Henry the Manager right now.
The nice thing is that it's hard to imagine a more promising young manager than Henry. I mean, just listen to this man talk about the game:
He's smart, charismatic, and has the "my resume is in the rafters" strength to get players to listen to him. On top of that, what player around the world wouldn't answer a recruiting call from Henry? Just like we heard that players like Miguel Almiron were willing to take a chance on Atlanta United to play for Tata Martino, we could see the same thing with Henry in Montreal. We can only start to imagine the possibilities.
I've long given up trying to say that a managerial hire is "right." It's an impossible science to predict. It's hard to imagine, however, Montreal doing better than Thierry Henry.
After all, it's not often I get an early-morning text that's this gleeful from Matt Doyle in response to news like this:
"I will collapse into a joyous sobbing mess if we get Henry and Mario Balotelli with the Impact this year."