Thierry Henry has told disgruntled Arsenal fans that Arsene Wenger should not leave the club, but says the Gunners boss has a difficult task to turn the team into Premier League champions.
It has been 13 years since Wenger guided the North London club to the last of the three English top-flight titles he has won since taking over in 1996.
With just a trio of FA Cup wins since, some supporters at the Emirates Stadium have become restless, but Henry believes the man who brought him to Arsenal in 1999 should keep his current job, even if there is much work to be done.
“Personally, I think Arsene shouldn’t leave,” Henry, who was handed his professional debut by Wenger while at Monaco aged 17, told RMC. “Should he change tactics or his way of doing things? I don’t know if he’s ready to do that. But the work he has to do right now is difficult, because it’s work on the mental side of things.
“Tactics help, but what I saw [in Saturday’s 3-1 loss] against Chelsea, it’s a mental problem. It’s what I’ve seen for a little while now. That’s where Arsene’s work is really difficult, because it’s a mental problem. It’s not easy to handle.
“Arsenal haven’t won the title for 12 years, and you get the impression they maybe won’t win it this season. I think there’s quality in the team. Is there enough to win the title? At the start of the season, when you look at Chelsea and Arsenal on paper, there’s not an enormous difference. So, that means it’s possible.
“If Chelsea are ahead, Arsenal can also do it. But to do that, you have to be at it every day. You have to be good in training all the time. You have to get stuck into yourself from time to time. I think the Arsenal players aren’t aware of what they could achieve. There comes a time when you have to believe in your chances of winning. It takes looking after yourselves, auto-discipline within the squad.”
Henry, who became Arsenal’s all-time leading scorer before leaving for Barcelona in 2007, had been working with the club’s youth players as he progresses towards his ambition of becoming a coach following the end of his playing career in December 2014.
However, Wenger said he could not devote himself to both a full-time position with Arsenal’s under-18 team and his work as a pundit for Sky Sports. The 39-year-old Henry has since taken up a role as an assistant coach to Belgium boss Roberto Martinez.
“The youth academy director gave me the under-18 coaching role,” Henry said. “Arsene thought it wasn’t compatible with my role as a pundit. It stopped there. I have enormous respect for Arsene. I left, I’m not disappointed. I don’t have priority.
“I have to prove that I’m good to coach. I’m not there yet. I don’t even have my third [UEFA pro] licence. Don’t ask me to look forward. I’m starting. I’m trying to become a coach.
“I don’t think I can know whether I’ll go somewhere one day. I am living a dream, I work in the world of football. I will go where I’m wanted. People think I dream of Arsenal. Yes, but it’s just a dream. How could I be pretentious enough [to consider that]?”