By 1970’s Gooner
Is the curse of the “Wenger reject” about to strike again?
Will Thierry Henry the greatest footballer to have graced the Premier League find out that once you leave Arsene Wenger’s tutelage you run a very great risk of “fading to grey”?
It wasn’t that long ago when the Barcelona doctors and medical team were questioning the wisdom of Henry’s transfer to Barca.
They have warned that the back injury which sidelined Henry for five months in his last season at Arsenal is a "chronic" condition, has no cure and tends to deteriorate with age.
Barcelona's former vice-president Sandro Rosell is reported to have said: "Whoever signed him deserves a clip round the ear". For more see my posting: Medical reports on Henry suggest Wenger was right to sell him
However Henry has managed to recover from his injury and has been starting games for Barca. The quality of his performances though has not been anywhere near the heights he reached for Arsenal.
In fact even Henry himself has acknowledged this saying that his level of play was currently fall short of expectations. "You can always do better and I am never satisfied with my performance” he said.
But he has put the blame on the fact that he is asked to play on the left wing rather than in the middle of the attack.
"I'm not used to playing on the wing after spending eight years at Arsenal as a striker. Now I play a different role," "It's the coach who decides the system and I don't have a problem with it."
But he has also shown his frustration of not being able to find an outlet for his efforts when he is on the ball. "When I move, I have no purpose in front of me” he said.
This is reminiscent of similar problems he faced in earlier years with the France national team when in a 4-2-3-1 formation adopted by Roger Lemerre, he was operating as a left winger, while David Trezeguet was the center forward.
And this brings us to the crux of the matter. In one of my postings back in June I had my doubts whether Henry will make it at Barcelona. You can read this posting here : Will Henry succeed at Barcelona?
The most obvious reason sited is the way Wenger sets up his teams and their style of play which is to always use the front man as the pivot of the attack. This invariably culminates in providing the scoring opportunity for the centre forward.
Frank Rijkaard has obviously not adjusted the team’s style and mentality to suit Henry’s way of playing so as to allow him to be the main man.
Especially when they have so many other stars in their line up all wanting the lime light and a piece of the action.
Wenger however grooms the players for the position that suits them best and they therefore have every chance of excelling.
Remember Henry was a winger when he arrived at Arsenal and wasn’t himself sure if he was cut out to be a forward. It was Wenger that transformed him into such an effective front man.
Henry left Arsenal as our all-time league goal scorer with 174 goals and all-time goal scorer in Europe with 42 goals.
He has scored six goals in 18 appearances for the Catalan club.
Wenger’s squad players good enough to face Manchester United