It’s important that I lay all my cards on the table right off the bat and make my loyalties known: I absolutely love Thierry Henry and want to see him succeed as a manager.
I was in the Arsenal youth academy for five years and my time there overlapped with his time in the first team when he was the best striker in Europe and was scoring goals for fun in the English Premier League.
My admiration for him grew even more over a four-hour dinner in Seattle in 2012 — Dwayne DeRosario was also present — where I picked his brain, heard some legendary stories and exchanged contact info. They say you should never meet your idols because they may disappoint you, but my respect for Thierry only grew the more I spoke to him. While I’ll certainly be objective in my assessment of his first season as Montreal Impact manager, I can’t sit here and hide the fact that for many kids in London, he was our Michael Jordan.
Great players — I’m talking about the very elite, top 20 of all-time or ones who were once the best in their position — rarely make great coaches. I can honestly think of only a few who were top-five players in their time that then became great coaches. Those would include: Alfredo Di Stefano, Johann Cruyff, Franz Beckenbauer and Zinedine Zidane.
Maradona and Zico have been average at best, Platini underachieved as a coach and Lothar Matthaus has had mixed results. Romario lasted one season as a manager and most of the greats — Pele, Ronaldo, Ronaldinho and Roberto Baggio among them – avoid coaching altogether.