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Monday, June 18, 2007

The Wenger Masterplan is key to the Henry question

Another summer and another tricky time for Arsenal supporters like me who must withstand rampant speculation about star players departing abroad.

Thierry Henry has three years left on his contract and the worldwide press talk is of such fevered nature that it would seem he is a free agent who has the free will to leave or not at the time of his choosing.

But three years on a contract means the ball is in Arsenal's court whether to accept any potential offer for our record goalscorer and talisman player. Given the authority of Arsene Wenger at the club this means it is his decision - and key to this will be how he weighs up Henry's worth in the context of his Masterplan.

The sale of Pat Vieira two summers ago signalled Wenger's signal intent to build a third generation team. He had already assembled Fabregas, Clichy, van Persie, Flamini, Senderos, Djourou, Eboue and Reyes as formidibly talented youngsters in a squad that were learning from 'the invincibles'. And since then he has added extremely promising youngsters like Denilson, Walcott, Bentdner, Diaby, Adebayor, Merida, Vela, Traore, Song, Fabianski and, most recently, Havard Nordveit to his squad.

Not only are the nature of these signings significant- but also the fact that Wenger has taken every opportunity he has had to blood these youngsters and expose them to the realities of top level football so to progress their development as quickly as possible.

This illustrates clearly that for at least three years Wenger has had a Masterplan: to assemble the best youngsters in world football, mould them collectively to his vision of football, mature their development as soon as possible, and then to lead them to a long period of success.

Parts one, two and three are in effect, and now it is a matter of achieving the difficult and decisive final aspect of his supremre vision. If he achieves this he will perceive it as his crowning achievement- and for a determined man like Wenger you know he will give everything to ensure its materialisation.

Now, if I was Henry, I would accept as an honour the leadership (assisted by other determined senior players like Brazilian captain Gilberto, Czech captain Tomas Rosicky, William Gallas and Kolo Toure) of this next generation squad. And Henry is a guy who in his eight years at the club has shown great affinity to Arsenal and what we are all about. But even if he decides he now wants to walk away and sample Barcelona it has to be with the consent of Arsene Wenger.

And Wenger will take the decision that fits in best with his Masterplan.

Now, if I was Wenger, I would refuse to sanction the sale of Henry unless a player of significant ability i.e. an Eto'o, was to come in as a replacement. Otherwise I would feel that I am damaging the stability and hindering the progress of my Masterplan. I'm quite sure this is how Wenger would perceive the situation too.

Lets wait and see... until then I believe we must trust in Wenger.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Excellent, sensible piece. Stability is key for success. Frankly, I am now ambivalent as to whether Titi stays or not. If he does stay, we should accept nothing but full commitment and loyalty.

6/18/2007 9:27 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

LOVE this article. Awesome!

6/18/2007 9:44 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree, nothing but full commitment or else he can leave.
I´ve the feeling that he´s past his best, I know he was injured most of the season but in several games his first touch was terrible.

If he stays, let us pray that I´m wrong...

6/18/2007 9:48 pm

Anonymous Flexo said...

He's a great player and I was all for him staying but I think last season we showed how our youngsters have progressed without Thierry. We had to cope with him for long periods of the season and had to put up with his second rate performances. We still managed to finsh in forth place and with more points that season out yester year. We are better with Henry in the team but his lack of commitment to Arsenal scares me as this could be effecting his performance as a whole. If we were to get rid of Thierry we should go for a swap. Eto'o for Thierry. A younger player.

6/18/2007 9:55 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article. A very sensible, balance view of what is going on. In Wneger we must trust :)

6/18/2007 9:57 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well said, i absolutely agree about wenger's new generation of youngsters, but don't you think that it will still take quite a few years to mould a new team, and during this time players like thierry should be kept at all costs to help the team progress and to score goals, something our youngsters struggle with at the moment.

6/18/2007 10:03 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Agree with your sentiment, and it's a bang on analysis. We shouldn't underestimate the influence in the squad of TH14 leaving, though. Recall that PV4's best days were behind him by the time we sold him; yet, there was a time in the term that followed when it became clear that we missed Paddy's influence in the midfield. It's been only of late that, through Cesc's vision and ability to read the game beyond his years, we've finally 'forgotten' the massive impact of Vieira in the side.

I tend to agree that should Henry be sold, it wouldn't be the worst thing to happen to the club. But we should take care not to underestimate the impact of doing so in the short term.

6/18/2007 10:08 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

henry should read this article.

6/18/2007 10:19 pm

Blogger Jay said...

I agree. This is a great article and somebody should sit henry down and make him read it as he seems to be acting rather erratically right now. I think him reading this would give himself a reality check and that what he needs right now.

6/18/2007 10:32 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Titi is still one of the best strikers in the world; his presence adds to the prestige of our club and attracts new players; he hasn't lost any pace but when he inevitably does, he has the ability to play behind the strikers in a Bergkampesque role; the young players look up to him and he is an outstanding role model. The only possible reasons to sell him are 1)Our medical people aren't convinced that his body will last much longer 2) if a club offers silly money, say above 30 mill pounds.

6/18/2007 11:11 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well considered and written piece seen thru the lense of the emerging generation of players.

Whilst the ball is in Wenger's court, the shot he plays will depend on Henry's positioning.

I do fear Henry's head has been turned much like Viera's before him.
The parallels in their approach to the captaincy are notable. Firstly with a reluctance to quash rumours re their future and secondly by releasing statements to the press on what Arsenal should do re transfers. The outcome of these strategies is 'captain with a messed-up head'. Wenger has to judge whether he can un-mess it. I think something snapped mid-season between Wenger and Henry. Maybe Wenger saw a re-run of the Viera saga. So sad....because pre-captaincy Henry was the epitomy of loyalty to Arsenal. I can only summise that aspects of Viera's style influenced Henry to our detriment.

6/18/2007 11:16 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why dont somebody send it to him then? Masterplan? You know nothing about anything else, the lot of you. You put this player on a higher surface and idolise him and he has to question whether he is a Arse player or not. I noticed all the woodworms come out when something about Arsenal is written. Great fans, know your football well, lousy analysers. Bout time you dropped Honree and got two players for the cash cos he is tempted to go elsewhere for glory. Proper glory.

6/18/2007 11:21 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I for one still believe we miss PV4 at the club as I believe that alongside Cesc we would have the best midfield pairing in world football so I don't go along with the opinion that stated its only now that we are forgetting how important Vieira was for us. As regards henry it appears that his days are numbered and while I would love Eto in exchange I happen to believe that Fernando Torres will be coming in a reyes & cash deal instead. I do think we need a real leader in this team cos neither eto or torres or indeed any of the existing squad(inc henry) can give us the leadership required on the pitch. It also appears likely that babel is on his way but again I would prefer queresma of porto who is more experienced, is fast, direct and can shoot from distance. One thing is clear and that is that we need additions and fast

6/18/2007 11:32 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can agree about fabregas and van persie, but ur saying the likes of djouru,adeyabor and song r amongst the most talented youngsters in the game right now?? hahaha dont fool urself biatch

6/18/2007 11:45 pm

Anonymous CaribKid said...

Well written piece and for most part I am in agreement with your concept of the "Masterplan". IF, and I repeat, IF, we can get another tried and proven quality striker such as Eto'o, Torres,etc. it would make sense to trade Henry at this time when there is still value.

As great a player Henry has been for Arsenal over the past 7 years I do not like his leadership qualities on the field and think his performance as Captain is rather immature. Surely, Gilberto or Toure would provide better leadership for a young squad which is in need of it both on and off the pitch. Add a few complementary pieces such as a speedy winger,a mud sticking, rumble in your face central defense animal and we should be fine for many years to come.

6/18/2007 11:48 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

PV4 served us well (annual flirtations with Real Madrid aside) but Wenger could no longer motivate him to the required level. He had to go.

I agree we need leadership - oh for a Tony Adams/Roy Keane type. The sort who demand loyalty and commitment. No rumours. No advising the club what to do. No on-field posturing....

6/18/2007 11:48 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

What a great article - a beacon of common sense amidst all the feverish posterings.
I am fed up with the same scenario with Henry we suffered with Vieira every close season. Not once has he said recently that he is dedicated to staying at Arsenal, unlike Kolo Toure.
When a player starts thinking he is bigger than the club, it is time for him to be moved on. We saw it with Vieira who strolled around the pitch during his last season at Arsenal. I think he was genuinely shocked when Wenger let him go and his double bluff didn't work. And like all the others such as Anelka, Overmars, Petit etc have found out too late that they should have valued life at Arsenal a lot more.
I think Henry has lost that extra pace that took him into so many goal-scoring positions and is becoming injury prone. I believe he will begin to struggle if he stays in the Premiership. Fans like to think he will still turn on the magic, but look at the sad sight of Freddie Llunjberg these days - no more the 15-20 goal provider from midfield. Sadly it is time to cash in while Henry still has a considerable value, but Wenger must get a quality replacement such as Et'o.


6/19/2007 12:33 am

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Good comments all...and a great sense check T.

I feel that Henry also must think clearly - great teams in each country are not guaranteed medals or cups. Look at Barca - just pipped by Real a few days ago (ironically the game was won and made safe by our frost suffering Spaniard Reyes!)! No guarantees for ANY player moving around!

Like the article says...there is such a huge element of LEADERSHIP that should be taken into account by Henry. To be honest, it's back to the old argument...does it have to be the CAPTAIN that leads? Not really...Gilberto captained the team for the most part of last season...but he's not the most vocal guys etc etc...and for Brazil...what does it bring? Not much flair point is the Arsenal do have leaders aplenty...but Henry needs to lead different - everybody looks to him to INSPIRE...and that's damn hard. Gilberto is stability...unwavering...and no ambiguous public comments. Henry is fickle but brilliant in his football...and it is telling that his public comments are sometimes like that too! This is CURRENTLY in transfer times the thing we are missing from our club captain.

Wenger of course plays a huge part in things...but he doesn't always get his way - Nicky Hammond of Reading has just turned down the position of Director of Football at Arsenal...English, with good reputation...but nope...change of heart...and Wenger doesn't get his wish. Wenger we trust...but don't forget...he is also human!

6/19/2007 1:25 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great article! Henry should read this. As a fan, I love the guy but unless he is fully behind the plan then I think he should go. We do need to replace him with STAR player who is ready to be part of the programme. I'm not sure about AW knowing best? I will give him one more season.

6/19/2007 1:26 am

Blogger Pat said...

As a Milan supporter id hate to see Kaka leave, but at the same time i hate seeing Milan players flounder around cos their heart isnt with the team anymore.

Im not completely sure why Arsenal got rid of David Dien but if it has caused Henry to question his future than maybe its better Arsenal cash in on him and buy someone commited to the cause.

6/19/2007 2:05 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i can agree about fabregas and van persie, but ur saying the likes of djouru,adeyabor and song r amongst the most talented youngsters in the game right now?? hahaha dont fool urself biatch

6/19/2007 3:54 am

Anonymous RvP said...

To the anonymous person who posted:
"i can agree about fabregas and van persie, but ur saying the likes of djouru,adeyabor and song r amongst the most talented youngsters in the game right now?? hahaha dont fool urself biatch"

Along with Fabregas and Van Persie, Gael Glichy, Johan Djourou, Adebayour, Walcott, Denilson, Merida, Vela are EASILY some of the best players in the world for their age groups and its scary to think how good they'll be as they mature into their mid 20's with Arsenal.

Please go back to supporting the scum and don't litter on the comments section of The Arsenal.

6/19/2007 7:38 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wenger & TH are inextricably linked. TH will stay at Arsenal as long as Wenger can assure him that he will also stay. The failure to lure Nicky Hammond as a director of football may be very telling. The conservative nature of the board will view TH at Arsenal for another year as an ever decreasing asset. Get that dusty cheque book out and sign Babel and Trezeguet/Anelka which appear to be the perfect balance of value and experience. Anelka wold need no introduction to the Premiership although Trez will take longer to settle after years in Italy.

6/19/2007 8:19 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suspect Henry's mind is elsewhere and Wenger is for the first time quietly pondering his mid term future. The Dein episode I believe has been more disruptive than the summer silence at the Emirates suggests. Just a feeling but I'm less confident about next season than I have been for some years.

6/19/2007 12:07 pm

Blogger Ganeshkumar said...

The recent comment of Arsenal chairman ready to work with Kroenke after New York summit make me feel that may be D Dein will come back. Lets see what Henry has to say then

6/19/2007 8:04 pm

Blogger Pat said...

I dont know if Diens return would secure Wenger and Henry. The damage has been done in my opinion.

Off the topic.... Suazo to AC Milan WOO HOO!!!

6/19/2007 10:26 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says....'T' you dont say much mate but when you do its always interesting.

My feeling is one of anger. With the manager, the board, and most of all Henry and his pals.

IF Henry was really proud to be AFC star & captain, he would not let this summer farce happen year in year out. What hardship would it have been for him to just come out after the final game and say, Im off to Barcelona, and thank you for making me what I am? A great player. although paid too much.

As for his pals, I really think its time we broke up this group of tappers up. For years we have had Henry, Viera, Pires, Petit, Eto, Ronaldhino, Van Bronk, and others selling stories to anyone who will pay either about themselves or their mates wanting away or desperate to join some other club. Its time Arsenal put a stop to it by taking a stand. They could claim this is a new form of illegal tapping?

So Patrick and Titi thanks but now shut up. You were made by Arsene, and it is not respectful to him or the fans to read this crap non stop.

So in answer 'T' to your query..I would sell Henry in a moment, also Freddy & Reyes. That parcel should earn a minmum of £ 30 million. With that, I feel its time for Arsene to go for more exciting players ie: Owen, Babel, Barnes, and Davies.

With these lads we would have our finisher. Our new defender, our additional deep center forward and our potential winger.

Yes I know three are Brits, but surely that will give us more consistent fight away from home too?

Mind you, we all know AW will do nothing of the sort dont we?

6/21/2007 10:45 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Gunnerpete says...Oh yes sorry I forgot. With the purchase of Curtis Davies, it would release Kolo for the role I advocated for two years now....just in front of our defence. This would allow Silver to play less, and would give us great options during injuries and the African Cup time.

6/21/2007 10:49 am

Anonymous Michael said...

Curtis Davies is not Arsenal material, neither is Giles Barnes. Ryan Babel has agreed to extend his stay at Ajax and Huntelaar has only been there one season. Liverpool bought Dirk Kuyt from Feyenoord after scoring 20 a season yet he has struggled to score in the Champions League. If we want to lift up the table and challenge back for our trophies we need suitable scorers with experience like Anelka, Gudjohnsen or even McCarthy who should be with a top side and not Blackburn. Arsene has released our top striker and captain because Titi fears our manager wont be there in a year's time, so why doesn't Arsene say to Titi he will be there 2008-2009 and beyond? Is Arsene giving it one more season and then looking to move on? Damn this board for not compromising with Dein, he built us up from nothing. He bought Arsene over and his son negotiated Titi's signing so why did they turn on him? The youngsters look fine but they wont win anything without a proper figure in the team and that is now only Gilberto. The top three may have sold out but it's investment and we will have to do the same if we want to compete hard with them. I'm so pissed Titi said he would stay for good and then now sods off to Spain. I blame Arsene for it because he should tell Titi he will be staying but has not and probably will go too.

6/24/2007 11:56 am

Anonymous Michael said...

Yeah, forgot to say I would say Owen for us but he left Liverpool in similar circumstances and when the going gets hard Owen wants to be elsewhere, not reliable enough and we can do without his injuries history.

6/24/2007 12:13 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wasnt this the very same site that took the piss out of another Barca blog saying Henry was going to sign for them and all the goner fans jumping on it like dogs on a bone? Blimey you lot arent half quiet now!! Now you can watch as the Cockerels come over as North London kings. Now whose laughing

6/24/2007 6:41 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello, anybody there????? Didn't someone on this site also write somethign about Arsenal being better off without Henry and everyone jumped on him like dogs on a bone, all the goners giving it all that because precious henry was talked about? That personw as right, now Arsenal have to be better off without Henry! Now whose laughing

6/25/2007 9:06 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

OH shit there's more!! Wasn't it Henry who said Barcelona were cheating divers in the Champions League final and now he's joining the very same cheats?? Now I know whose laughing!!!

6/25/2007 9:08 am

Anonymous Anonymous said...

GunnerPete says...There are some very sad people supporting the mighty AFC nowdays. Wrting off this fantastic club because yet another talented ( just passing his peak)prima Donna wants to play with his pals? Grow up and face the facts.

1) This squad (built by our God) finished 4 and reached the Carling Cup Final with mostly our reserves, and still gave Chelski (£350 mill os superstars ) a football lesson.

2) I am absolutely sure this is part of Arsenes long term plan ie; when the yank takes us over (shame) Dein will be back as Chairman (I hope) and Arsene will be presented with any amount he wants.

3) Arsenal, being the greatest club in the world is always going to outlive any player who wants to go to a flash outfit like Barca or Madrid. Remember that these two have bought there entire history of success, as Chelski are doing now, with Manure not far behind them.

4) As for Davies & Barnes not being Arsenal class...remember Henry / Viera wallowing in Italian reserves, so many so called fans said they were not our class too.

5) Arsenal will reduce their debt by a third is less than a year when Highbury is sold out. this will then see the £100 mill extra income per year, mostly going towards players...brilliant long term plan.

In a nutshell, after so many wonderful years thanks to Arsene mainly, I urge you youngsters with no guts to become proper supporters and support this great squad & manager as they grow in stature. As Ive said acouple of times Bye Henry & thanks. See you at Chelski in about 14 months.

6/25/2007 12:49 pm

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shut up, will ya? Just lost our top striker and your on some kind of soapbox. You didnt bloody like him anyway some fan you are what if Arsene is gone next season? Looking bleak now what with the board not wanting Anelka to come back, Christ what a foul up. And Dein is not coming back to a bunch of no-heads who cant see the future forward.

6/25/2007 2:09 pm

Blogger T said...

First a belated thanks for all the comments to this post- and as ever thanks to Nturtle and GunnerPete for your perspective.

Ironically enough I was in an airport just about to board a plane for Barcelona when a text message was received saying that Henry was finally on his way there too... I guess it was meant to be for me that I should be in Barca when our record goalscorer was to finalise the transfer away from the Arsenal.

For me I wish Henry all the best. He had a great attitude for the club and for winning and at Arsenal became one of the most sensational players I have seen. The temptation of playing at the wonderful Nou Camp stadium with Messi, Ronaldinho and Eto'o is undoubtedly a big one- and it is a front line that I will enjoy to watch next season. Good luck Thierry.

More important for me is what Wenger does next. I'm sure that Wenger had the final say on the Henry departure and I look forward to hearing from him and seeing what plans he has up his sleeve. With Henry gone and Adder on African nations cup duty next season we definitely will need a new striker to come in... and as I said in my post one of a big stature. Hopefully we will see someone who fits this bill enter the Emirates this summer.

6/26/2007 6:29 pm

Anonymous Nturtle said...

Great contribution all...even all the anons with quite fluctuating comments!

At the end of the day, Henry has gone and Arsenal must live on. Wenger is on holiday, hopefully having a rest and figuring things out...and coming back fresh and with a vengeance to prove that this generation of players will still do well.

With the Henry and Viera,'s just another different team. Things shouldn't fall apart because of one player. Gunnerpete has mentioned some great points, and Arsenal seems to be a club that thinks ahead, and not only now, and it is clear that there is a good progression to keep bringing the money in to build great teams, not just because of investors or personal wealth that is fleeting and changing.

It was inevitable that fingers now point to Wenger to see if HE leaves, but again that won't sink the boat...but would be a much greater loss than any one player.

Henry served us well, now the challenge is to see the new players and "young" experienced players step up. A few good players coming in won't be bad either...let us see how it goes!

6/28/2007 5:47 am

Blogger Skippy said...

TH will be a great loss to the premiership. What a player he is and he will do well at Barca, where he will be loved once again.

Great article T. I think Wenger will sign a quality goal scorer.

6/30/2007 9:41 pm


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