I get so angry at newspapers sometimes.
It has been a wonderful start to the season, and the press want to find out exactly why things have gone so well. Some briefly focus on the form of Cesc, Adebayor, Van Persie, Flamini, Clichy etc, but before long the subject of Thierry Henry comes up. Over and over again.
Practically every interview at the moment makes some reference to the team being better without TH14, and the players always respectfully answer in the same way, that Henry was fantastic, but this season the team dynamic has changed and the new approach is working well so far.
But headlines like ‘Players learn to adapt to life after Henry’ don’t sell half as well as ‘Cesc says Henry was bad for Arsenal! EXCLUSIVE!!!’. So every word is twisted to make the enigmatic Frenchman sound like an absolute burden.
And I’m fed up of it. Henry was a leader by example (not in the captain sense, but the inspirational one), he is and always will be a legend at the club, a player who worked his socks off, became the club’s record scorer, surely must be close to the record assister as well, while playing in a style loved by true football fans the world over.
And contrary to what the same press say, he did turn up in the big games. Witness the glorious hattricks against Roma and Liverpool, the winner in the Bernabeu, stunning strikes against United, goals against Chelsea – what more could he do? It was always a bizarre perception brought out purely by his own genius – people began to expect miracles in every match. No player can reach those heights. But he got closer than most.
He was not a captain. And for the last year, he wasn’t particularly happy either. But when he played, he still gave his all, no matter how sulky he may have looked. As for the big games, an FA Cup game at Anfield must count, surely? And yet a patently half fit Henry scored a blinder, going on to score an impressive number of goals given the length of time he was injured for.
He was not a burden, he never was. Of course he affected the style of play – when you have a player that talented, it is easy to give him the ball and let him weave his magic. Without that, you have to find new ways, and that enables you to grow as a player. Does that mean it is sometimes wise, therefore, to jettison the star? Yes. Is that the star’s fault? Absolutely not – he is a victim of his own ability.
Similarly – is it now wrong for our defence to pass the ball forward to Cesc just because he’s on fire? Or is that the most ridiculous notion you’ve heard since Robbie Savage became an international footballer?
I am sick to death of seeing players and the manager explain this quite clearly, and make it crystal clear that Henry as a player and a man is missed, only for the press to warp the comments into a false headline. I’d go as far as to say the headlines are deliberate and misleading lies. As journalists, they know that what they are printing is false, but as shown with all the crisis talk in the summer, once the media decide to go down one road, no amount of contradictory statements will stop them.
It is propaganda of the most blatant form. And it works – I know far too many people now who think of Henry’s time with Arsenal as a burden on the club. How utterly disrespectful. How ridiculously fickle.
TH14 was an awesome servant of this football club. He spent the best eight years of his career playing magical football for us, and left when we were still able to make a profit on his transfer fee.