'Being in Quebec is something extraordinary': Thierry Henry aims to forget Monaco nightmare after taking charge at Montreal Impact
Former France striker Henry will attempt to repair his reputation as a head coach at Montreal Impact, where the 42-year-old has agreed to resume his career in January, one year after he was sacked as manager of French side Monaco.
Henry won four and lost 11 of his 20 matches in charge of the Ligue 1 side, where his methods – including apparently lambasting his players in a style more becoming of a tempestuous teammate – came into question during a reign lasting little more than three months.
Henry, who finished his playing career with a four-year spell at New York Red Bulls, will return to the US five years after his retirement as a player, having agreed a two-year deal that will commence when the MLS season restarts in 2020.
“We’ll start at the beginning, slowly, and lay a good foundation,” said Henry, speaking after he was announced as the replacement for another former France international, Remi Garde, who had been in charge at Impact for almost two years.
“It’s important to try to create a good connection with the community. For me, it’s super important that people are happy to come to the stadium and see the Impact play.
“We’re going to try to have our style, our philosophy. After, it’s all about work, rigor, and professionalism. Hopefully we’ll all be on the same page quickly to get back into the playoffs first and foremost, which is very important.”
Monaco were winless in their final five matches under Henry, culminating in a 5-1 home defeat to Strasbourg at the end of a tumultuous period in which Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer was criticized for his tactics and man-management.
He became the highest-paid player in the MLS when he joined the Bulls on an annual salary of $5 million ahead of the 2012 season, and said his first visit to Montreal, for a pre-season friendly in 2011, allowed him to “truly feel” the city’s football culture.
Speaking about his enduring relationship with Impact, Henry said: “I’ve always kept an eye on this club.
“I spoke often with [former midfielder] Patrice Bernier, and people always told me good things. I noticed, especially when I would play here, that people were very warm and friendly.
“Being in Quebec, in Montreal, a place with a great multicultural heritage, is something extraordinary.
“I thought the stadium was very welcoming. When there’s noise, people, and everyone is really behind the team, it’s really impressive. That’s why when I knew they wanted me here, it fell into place naturally. I’m very, very happy.”
Henry will be reunited with former teammate Bojan Krkic, who he combined with during his prolific spell at Barcelona between 2010 and 2013.
Following his $24 million move to Camp Nou in 2007, Henry provided Spaniard Krkic with his debut goal for the club.
The pair will hope for a better season than Impact endured last season, which ended last month with the club 18th in the overall table, suffering a 7-1 setback against Sporting Kansas City in March and a 6-3 defeat against Colorado Rapids in August.