Bordeaux is believed to have struck a deal with Arsenal legend, Thierry Henry, to become its next coach.
The French side is currently without a manager after Gus Poyet quit early this season. On one hand, the project seems an exciting start for the 41-year-old. On another, it looks like a tricky trap.
Despite his giant statue outside, Henry was forced to move far away from Emirates to begin a career. Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and Mikel Arteta offered solace. Arsene Wenger was labelled a power-thirsty tyrant. Although a bit selfish, Le Professeur meant well. The then Gunner boss wanted his compatriot to quit punditry.
Fast forward to present day, Henry is nearing his first job at Bordeaux. He had to quit the same television to be considered. To get here, the 41-year-old worked under Roberto Martinez as Belgium national team assistant for two years. He is understood to be enthusiastic at the prospect of cutting his teeth in the Ligue 1. It is clear why.
The Girondins is traditionally among France top sides. With six Ligue 1 titles, they’re joint-fifth on its most powerful list. The club has claimed 16 other domestic honours. There’s nothing to show on the continent, though. But they’ve come close twice. A decade after Champions League semi-final defeat was followed by another lost in Europa League final in 1996.
Bordeaux is an exciting project for any manager. Although not in the same financial league as PSG and Monaco, they flaunt an intricate scouting network. Something prevalent among modest French teams. Malcom, for instance, was snapped from Corinthians for less than £4m aged 19. Two years on, he joined Barcelona for 10 times that figure.
The Brazilian was only one of several genuine prospects on the club’s ranks. Francois Kamano, Younousse Sankhare and Nicolas De Preville have shown immense promise. The entire squad is blooming with an average of 24. Summer recruits Samuel Kalu and Toma Basic are 20 and 21 respectively.
Yet, Bordeaux dugout could be a worst possible initiation for the French record goalscorer. As a developing club, there’s always that tendency to auction it’s best stars. Alongside poster boy Malcom, Diego Rolan and Gaetan Laborde, who both acted as supporting cast the last term, have both left for greener pastures. More could follow.
The dark clouds around Stade Matmut Atlantique could subdue Henry’s bright potentials. Persistent crisis has become a part of day-to-day life there. Fan unrest, player indiscipline and the threat of relegation are endemic in recent seasons. Gus Poyet’s suspension, eventual dismissal and players’ protests illustrate the current meltdown.
Henry lacks the experience to clean up such a fetid mess. Even the most skilled gaffers duck rescue missions, especially those bereft of pre-season. The Europa League is another big distraction. Bordeaux lost its opening two league matches to Strasbourg and Toulouse but could enter the group stages.
Henry was a stern critic on television. If he takes up this role, only a matter of time before he gets a fair share of his own medicine. He may even get an overdose.
Written by Toby Prince
Follow Toby on Twitter @prinzToby
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