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The Returning Legend - A Sign Of Desperation?

Thursday 12th January 2012
The returns of Thierry Henry and Paul Scholes to the Premier League is without a doubt the biggest story of the transfer window so far. Both players are held in high regards by the supporters of Arsenal and Manchester United respectively, but given the pressure that both clubs have succumbed during the season the "return of a legend" is a clever public relations trick. In the case of Henry it is unheard of for a player to have a statue of him stand proudly outside the stadium whilst he plays on inside.
In many respects a returning legend has nothing to gain - his game will have adapted from his first stint with the club and his role within the team is likely to change from being the focal point to being on the periphery. It does tell a story which is universally popular with the footballing romantics however. The player is often as delighted with his return as the fans - when Robbie Fowler re-joined Liverpool in 2006 he said that he "felt like a kid waking up on Christmas morning everyday". Whilst his return had great sentimental value it was also an attempt by Rafa Benitez to get Liverpool scoring with players such as Djibril Cisse, Peter Crouch and Fernando Morientes all misfiring.

At Arsenal this is not the case. Since Thierry Henry departed for Barcelona in 2007, Robin Van Persie has slowly built up his repertoire and become one of the most feared strikers in world football. Thierry Henry coming back to the Emirates alleviates some of the pressure off Arsene Wenger - if he fails to sign anyone else in this January transfer window to paper over the cracks in the squad the fans will not complain. Why? Because they have a player they love and respect back at the club for a limited period.

The return of Paul Scholes is slightly different. Since his retirement last summer Scholes has not been replaced and as a result the performances from Manchester United have been well below par all season, with the exception of the 8-2 win against Arsenal. This has been compounded by injuries across the squad, but it is somewhat bizarre that Sir Alex Ferguson feels it is necessary to persuade a seasoned veteran to come out of retirement rather than integrate young talent such as Paul Pogba within the first team squad, or alternatively make a "marquee" signing such as Luka Modric or Wesley Sneijder.

Whilst the return of a legend may be desperate in many senses, the bridges it builds with fans along with the enhanced atmosphere it generates within the ground may just about make it a worthwhile temporary solution.
Andy Rumens

Total articles: 8

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