For the first time since 2014, Thierry Henry is back in Major League Soccer — this time in a new capacity. On Thursday, the Montreal Impact announced the hiring of the French soccer legend as their new head coach. Henry, 42, signed a two-year deal, with an option for 2022.
This will be Henry’s second head coaching gig, and his first since his brief 20-game stint in charge of AS Monaco where he was dismissed after just over three months.
Henry got into coaching after his playing career was done and began working in Arsenal’s youth academy. He then joined the Belgium national team as an assistant under Roberto Martinez where he helped the team to a third-place finish in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. He turned that performance into his first head coaching job at his former club AS Monaco in October of 2018. The club had fired head coach Leonardo Jardim and was deep in the fight to stay up in Ligue 1. But things did not improve under Henry. In 20 Ligue 1 matches, his team won four games and lost 11 while scoring 15 goals and conceding 36 over that span. He was let go and replaced by Jardim, who helped Monaco stay up in the top tier of French soccer.
For Montreal, hiring Henry makes plenty of sense when it comes to selling tickets, because the French-Canadian community will recognize the name as he’s one of the best players of the last two decades. A prolific superstar striker, he shined at Arsenal and Barcelona and had a good run with the New York Red Bulls in MLS. His winning percentage as coach has to be a concern, but he was in a tough situation at Monaco where the team lost plenty of talent and dealt with numerous injuries.
He’s certainly deserving of another chance, and it will be interesting to see how he shapes the roster and aims to create a contender. Last season, Montreal finished 12-5-17 and in ninth place in the Eastern Conference, four points off of a playoff spot. The club conceded 60 goals in 34 matches.