Wenger axes Thierry Henry from Arsenal coaching staff - despite Gunners legend offering to work for free
Arsene Wenger has rejected an offer from Arsenal legend Thierry Henry to work for the club for free with the record goalscorer poised to become the latest in a long line of players to start his coaching career elsewhere.
Henry was offered a job coaching Arsenal’s Under-18s by head of the academy Andries Jonker, only to be personally overruled by Wenger.
Despite his statue sitting outside the Emirates Stadium, Henry joins the likes of Patrick Vieira, Dennis Bergkamp, Marc Overmars and, most recently, Mikel Arteta in making the move into coaching away from manager Wenger and Arsenal.
Having completed his A licence coaching qualification while working with Arsenal’s kids, Henry must now coach a team to get his Uefa pro licence and had hoped to do so with the Gunners’ Under-18s.
Wenger, though, informed Henry that a position with the Under-18s must be a full-time role and cannot be combined with his work for Sky television.
Henry responded by offering to work with Under-18s coach Kwame Ampadu without collecting a wage, while still fulfilling his Sky obligations, but Wenger turned him down.
An offer to coach the club’s strikers was also rejected by the 66-year-old. While senior figures inside the Emirates were happy for Henry to stay and continue his education at Arsenal, a final decision was left down to Wenger.
Sources around Arsenal believe Wenger does not want anybody at the club’s London Colney training ground who may be prepared to challenge him or be seen as a possible threat to his position in the future.
Wenger was unhappy with comments Henry made on Sky last season, claiming he had never seen the Arsenal fans so unhappy, even though the 38-year-old has always been supportive of his old manager.
Henry had been a popular figure among the Arsenal players, young and old. Theo Walcott was just one Arsenal first-team star who went on record as saying that he had benefitted from his presence at the training ground.
The reason given to Henry that he cannot combine coaching the Under-18s with his Sky work does not entirely stack up, given Vieira was not allowed a senior role at Arsenal under Wenger even though he did not have any other commitments.
Vieira accepted a youth development role at Manchester City in 2011 and worked his way up the ranks before being put in charge of New York City, who are owned by City, in November last year.
It is still a source of embarrassment to many people who work at Arsenal that Vieira has played a key role in City becoming a fierce rival of the Gunners.
City will have another former Arsenal star playing a key coaching role for them next season after Arteta accepted a position in Pep Guardiola’s backroom staff.
The 34-year-old had been groomed for a coaching position at Arsenal, but Wenger stalled over how he could fit Arteta into his staff, allowing Guardiola to make him a first-team coach.
The former Barcelona manager referenced the importance of the Spaniard in his first City press conference.
Bergkamp turned down an offer to scout for Arsenal and Wenger after retiring from playing, and instead returned to Ajax to start a coaching career that saw him promoted to assistant manager under Frank de Boer.
Overmars also went back to Holland and is director of football at Ajax, having started work as a youth coach in 2011.
Wenger has allowed a number of his old players back to Arsenal in temporary roles and working with the junior teams, but only former defender Steve Bould has managed to hold down a long-term position in his backroom staff.
Bould was head coach of the Under-18s before he became Wenger’s assistant, following the retirement of Pat Rice in 2012.
Wenger’s snub has left Henry having to look for a different club to complete his pro licence at and the Frenchman is understood to be considering numerous offers from the Premier League and abroad.