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Thierry Henry misses out on Aston Villa job

Friday 27th July 2018

Few clubs have been on as turbulent a path as Aston Villa over the last few years. The former European champions had several seasons of near misses at the bottom end of the Premier League; before eventually getting relegated in 2015/16. They managed to stave off the threat of a double relegation by finishing 13th in their first season in the Championship, thanks to Steve Bruce who replaced Roberto di Matteo a few months into the campaign.

Bruce has remained at the helm since and he guided the club to a fourth-place finish in 2017/18, before losing to Fulham in the play-off final. Following that defeat, reports began to emerge that Villa were in trouble financially, and it was suggested that they would have to get rid of several players to balance the books. Fortunately, they have managed to sort their money issues out thanks to investment from Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens of the NSWE group. 

When new money comes into a club, you can always be sure that it will come at a cost to someone as the new owners will have their own plans and ideas. The fact they have put huge finances in gives them the right to have a say and in this instance, it looked like the fall guy might be Steve Bruce. Bruce has been at the club since October 2016 but it appears the new investors wanted a bigger name with former Arsenal and France striker, Thierry Henry topping their wish list. 

In his playing days, Henry was one up there amongst the best in the world. He scored 175 Premier League goals for Arsenal as he helped the club win two league titles, including the famous season when they went unbeaten. He also played under Pep Guardiola at Barcelona and was a member of the team that won every tournament they entered in 2009. Since retiring from playing, he has worked for Sky Sports as a pundit and also as an assistant coach with the Belgian national team. 

A few weeks ago, Henry announced that he would no longer be working for Sky as he planned to further his coaching career and almost instantly the Aston Villa rumours began. Since then the investment has come in and the gossip columns continued to intensify despite the fact that Bruce is still in the job and has been working normally in preparation for the new season. Things finally came to a head on Wednesday evening with Bruce meeting the Villa ownership and it was confirmed that he will remain in the job. 

While nobody can take Henry's playing career away from him, the potential appointment always felt like a big mistake. He is unproven and although everyone deserves a chance, for Henry to get his first opportunity it would have meant letting Bruce leave. The ex-Manchester United centre-back huge experience at Championship level and he has overseen four promotions since becoming a manager.

Commercially, Henry may have made sense. He will increase the profile of the club he goes to and there will be a lot of interest in how he does as a manager, stemming from his Premier League playing days. However, Aston Villa are a business, they have to do what's best for them at this point in time. The budding manager will have to wait patiently for his first big opportunity.

A few of Henry's rivals from his playing days have already gone into management with Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard at Rangers and Derby County respectively. There will be a club out there who will be willing to take a chance on Henry. His experience in the game will be invaluable and he has some coaching under his belt, working with Roberto Martinez on the international scene. However, Villa weren't the right club at this time, no doubt he'll be in a dugout at some point in the not too distant future.

Gerry Johnston

I am a 33-year-old sports writer from Ireland who enjoys watching European football. My main focus is La Liga, but I do keep a close eye on all of the major leagues throughout the world.


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