It was only a matter of time. CF Montreal announced Thursday morning that Thierry Henry was giving up his head coach duties for family reasons and who could blame him?
“It is with a heavy heart that I decided to make this decision,” he said in a press release. The past year has been extremely difficult for me personally. Due to the global pandemic, I couldn’t see my children. ”
As the team prepares to play another season south of the border, it was becoming unthinkable for Henry to relive another year under the same conditions.
“The timing is far from perfect, but there is no timeline when it comes to a personal decision,” insisted club president Kevin Gilmore.
The whole thing occurs only 24 hours after the dismissal of Claude Julien at the Canadian. Let’s say it’s rare that two coaches leave in such a short time in the same city.
Contrary to what everyone thought, Thierry Henry returned to Montreal in January to prepare for the next season with the technical director, Olivier Renard. His decision therefore caused a certain shock within the organization.
“It was a surprise because our plan was for him to be here for the long term to build the identity of this team together with Olivier,” said Gilmore, who said he understood Henry’s decision.
“I don’t think many people can understand how difficult the last season has been for the Canadian teams who have spent a lot of time in their suitcases and in the hotel. […] When we hired Thierry, no one imagined that we would go through a pandemic of such importance and that it would disrupt our lives. So I am not shocked by his decision. ”
Return to England
Henry had completed his quarantine and had returned to work at Center Nutrilait.
“About two weeks ago, he contacted me telling me that there were problems with his family and asked me to return to London,” explained Olivier Renard.
“There has been noise about English clubs, but there has been blah blah for nothing. I can confirm that we haven’t spoken to any club and he assures me that neither has he. ”
The sporting director chose to give his coach time to make an informed decision.
“I let him think and he contacted me on the 18th [février], and I felt the situation was more negative than positive. We followed up with his agent to see what the club could do in order not to lose Thierry. ”
“We tried to find the best solutions, but he has several small children and he knew we were going to travel a lot.”
It was finally Monday that he communicated his decision to CF Montreal.
“Out of respect for Thierry, I started making a list like when you go to the grocery store, but I haven’t contacted anyone. It will be done from now on, ”said Renard, who must now find a replacement for him.
Head held high
Appointed head coach on November 14, 2019, Henry will have spent only one season at the helm of the team, compiling an 8-13-2 record in the MLS regular season.
The team finished the season ninth in the Eastern Conference and lost to the New England Revolution in the first round of the playoffs.
The then Impact also reached the quarter-finals of the CONCACAF Champions League, losing to CD Olimpia in a round-trip series in which the two games were separated by nine months.
Without breaking anything, Henry was installing a promising system that focused on attacking and made soccer more interesting to watch.