I think it’s time to talk about Thierry Henry, not the fact he won the World Cup and European Championships with France or the fact he is Arsenal’s all time leading Goalscorer but his move into the world of Football punditry.
Sky announced with much fanfare that Henry was joining their punditry ranks in January, I suppose you could call it the equivalent of a key signing in the January transfer window to bolster the squad and add an extra impetus for the remainder of the season and Sky are hoping he does exactly that on screen….only he hasn’t
Some figures were quoting Henry’s sign up fee as £24million over 6 years – £24 million, that’s £4m a season. That is an absolutely stupendous wage, all credit to Henry and his agent for managing to bag that deal. But how can any pundits analysis be worth that much, I mean how much added value do they actually bring to a game. Certainly nowhere near that figure. As Sky yes man Jeff Stelling said himself, no one tunes into the games solely for the pundits they tune in for the action which is about to unfold.
It seems as if Henry’s aloof style and Gallic charm isn’t really transferring to the screen. Yes I get that people will say “But he’s Thierry Henry” that’s who he is but if someone is being employed to be a pundit then you would at least expect them to offer some insight as to what has just happened in the game and impart some of the so called wisdom that he has built up over his illustrious playing career but instead we just get a figure on screen who doesn’t seem to have an opinion of his own and just seems happy to shrug his shoulders and agree with what everybody else is saying.
Without sounding all UKIP does anyone else struggle to understand the points he is trying to make, I’m not sure if it’s down to English not being his first language or that he’s not a very good pundit. Maybe a little bit of a and a little bit of b. But as Fabio Cannavaro proved while employed by ITV over the Summer, some ex professionals who don’t have English as the mother tongue really do struggle to get their point across as emphatically as they do in their own language. Not as a pundit but watching Spurs Manager Mauricio Pochettino muddle through his post match press conferences in English makes you think although highly commendable for having a go, you wish he would bring the translator back to really try and get his point across. Now obviously I’m not for a minute suggesting that Thierry Henry needs a translator but he’s grasp of the English language is far stronger and he should be able to articulate himself better then the turgid offerings we’ve been served up so far.
But let’s move on to his performance last night and his criticism of Javier Hernandez (video below)
His comments just seem a bit unnecessary and almost hypocritical, here is a player who loved celebrating on his own as if he was centre stage and for all his talent and goals he scored then rightly so, but it seemed such a weird tangent to go off on. Again he didn’t tell us why or how the goal was created, how Hernandez found the space in the box, whether Ronaldo could have got the shot away himself. No none of that, instead he seems to have developed some sort of grudge with Javier Hernandez (maybe because of his Manchester United links there is an instant dislike?) in the space of 90 minutes to leave everyone at home and his colleagues in the studio saying “what is he on about?”
Now admittedly there have been worse pundits Peter Schmeichel on the BBC springs to mind, but at least the BBC saw the errors of their ways and quietly dumped him from their punditry line up. The problem for Sky is after much hype, he really isn’t going anywhere soon and with them losing the Champions League coverage from next season they are going to be wanting to get their moneys worth from the Frenchmen so expect him to be on your screens every week from next season.
On the flipside the more on TV he is the better he will and start to blossom (akin to his Arsenal career when he started off as a Winger and then didn’t look back when he moved to a central striker role) but I think it’s fair to say punditry isn’t proving to be his strong point. When Sky have two of the best if not the best pundits in Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher, Henry is falling well short of that mark and almost…I say almost have you yearning for Jamie Redknapp to be on your screen.
You have to wonder how much of this Gallic aloofness Graeme Souness is going to take before these two really come to blows (verbally unfortunately not physically although with Graeme you never know!) and if they do I think Graeme will show him up and leave him on his arse like he did many midfielders in the 70’s and 80’s. The debut weekend there were already the first signs of a potential flashpoint when Souness made the glib comment that “It was an easy days work for you as all you’ve done is agree with everyone else”
Ultimately Thierry Henry does need time to bed in, so maybe this is why he was bought in midway through a season to then have him at a more confident level before the start of the 2015/16 season. But currently Sky’s big January signing has been yet to open his account and pay off a large chunk of that transfer fee. It will be interesting to see if and when he ever steps up to the mark but for now the ignorance he displayed on the pitch through that glittering career of his is not working on the television screen. I and am sure many others will be watching with interest over the coming months to see if Thierry Henry turning up at Sky actually ends up becoming a big turn off.