The Henry effect

What the players are saying about their new head coach

It’s been a few days that the Impact has been in Florida, taking part in preseason training camp under new head coach Thierry Henry and his coaching staff. The team has already started working on implementing their new coach’s philosophy as the Concacaf Champions League approaches, during which they’ll take on Costa Rican club Saprissa in the round of 16, starting with an away matchup on February 19.

So far, the football icon has made quite an impression on his new squad.

“I think what we all love about Thierry is that he has a little bit of swagger around him,” said midfielder Shamit Shome. “That swagger that he has on and off the field is slowly building on to us. It’s good to have that extra edge when we step onto the field, and that extra bit of confidence. He’s very good one-on-one and communicating what he wants us to do better. I think that’s very important to help us improve individually.”

It’s been clear in the first few days that the former Arsenal legend is going to be a hands-on coach. He has no issue stopping drills as many times he deems necessary, making the necessary corrections and spending as much time with an individual player as it takes.

The clarity in the message is something that’s been well received by everyone thus far.

“We talk a lot,” said midfielder Samuel Piette. “You can tell he loves his football and that he wants to share his ideas with us. Obviously, a new philosophy is going to be instilled. It’s going to take time, but it’s going well.”

Time, unfortunately, is something that the Impact is going to have a little less of this year, which is why the Montreal club started training camp a week earlier than it usually does. Henry and his staff have wasted no time getting into the tactical side of things as well, with training sessions presenting a balance between fitness exercises and game-like situations.

This structure has allowed the head coach’s message to be quickly transmitted to the group, as they now work on implementing it during this month-long camp in the Sunshine State.

“It’s clear how he wants us to play and how he wants us to defend,” added Shome. “Having that structure in place will make a difference. It’s giving us confidence to know how we’re going to play, how we’re going to attack and how we’re going to defend. Now, it’s about executing. And if we can do that, we know that we can be very successful. In training, we’re seeing that when we’re doing the right things, we’re scoring goals and creating chances.”

Inspired by Klopp

Despite attaining legend status with the Gunners in the Premier League, Henry’s coaching inspiration comes from an old Arsenal rival. Head coach Jurgen Klopp and Liverpool have taken the footballing world by storm this year and are on their way to achieving the type of season Henry achieved with Arsenal, after which they were dubbed “The Invincibles.”

That brand of soccer is something, which combines possession with lethal counter-attacking football, may be a part of the Impact’s identity during the 2020 season.

“He talks about Liverpool a lot as the modern club, that’s really creating the new way of playing football,” said goalkeeper Evan Bush. “They can keep the ball very well, but when chances arise to go quickly, that’s what they do. You don’t just keep the ball to keep the ball. From that sense, you attract the other team and make them run.  He mentioned that he likes to humiliate other teams, but in the right way, by making them run and exhausting them, and that makes sense.”