God, what took him so long? Well, alright, so maybe a professional footballer at 28 needs all the time in the world to ponder his next move. A footballer gonna lose all his prestige in 3 or 4 more years tops, so the next club is gonna make or break his name. At least, the answer was in the affirmative rather than the dreaded ‘Henry signs for Barca headlines’.Thank you Thierry…Merci beaucoup!
When Henry was offered a bumper deal in February 2006, he flatly refused to sign the new deal. I’m not sure how but his on-pitch performances were indicative of someone sometimes at odds with himself; never quite at ease and sparingly the genius he was at times. But when the Arsenal was actually closing in on Spurs for the first time since November 2005 and the club was nearing its first ever Champions League final experience, I saw a inspired surge in form almost at once since the beginning of March 2006. But he still kept everyone guessing. Will he sign or go to Spain? Meanwhile, the van Bronckhorst donkey kept braying for Henry to go to Barcelona. ”Come. Come to Barca. I’d play with you in attack next season. I’m sick of playing leftback and we can launch a coup d’etat and drive Eto’o back to Cameroon and Ronaldinho can go to Chelsea for all I care.”. Van Bronckhorst is no Dutch legend. He’s a donkey Luis Figo is proud to own. Luis bettered him at Euro 2004 even when Figo was the older one. Praise Figo for shutting up someone with no shame.
Then Arsenal secured 4th spot on the last day of the season at the final day at Highbury Park and Henry ‘signed’ off with a hattrick. While many Arsenal fans think that he’d stay after securing the 4th spot needed for the elusive CL spot, many also gave a valid explanation that Henry being an emotional dude would think ‘what a pretty way to sign off from the club! What more can they ask for? A double hattrick? Maybe when I join Barcelona with the buck-toothed rabbit and the best-loved African in Spain.’
And so the question remains. The days leading up to the CL final at beautiful Paris was dreadful. Worst case scenarios, best possible situations all merged into a tight dynamite with a short wick. Goddamn it, sign the damn contract,FFS!How can Arsenal be the Arsenal if Henry leaves? Ask Bergkamp to play for another year? Say, that’s a good idea, you know.
Then the Champions League final. It’s strange atmosphere at the match…so ethereal, not like a dream but also not quite delirious. Just an odd feeling. No, it wasn’t confirmed when Lehmann was sent off for his foul, but when Sol Campbell nodded in the Arsenal goal. It’s like, no matter what the team does, they’ll never win it. But do the Arsenal care? Like the Battle for the Alamo, when the odds were down, the Arsenal players defended stolidly and could have won it. Henry said he would think about his future that night. Can’t ask too much. The Arsenal was not second best the whole night and never once rolled over and play dead.
The news that he addressed his mates on the flight back to London from Paris that ‘we’ll come back stronger next year”, was some salve to the Arsenal fans. Some hope? No, I don’t think so…he’s signing on finally. If not, why’d he bother to address his teammates who’d not be fighting alongside him? He might as well chat up some lovely French stewardesses or take a well-deserved nap and think about the Nou Camp in raptures at his signing.Or for that matter, the wizardry he will weave with Ronaldinho and the other Barca future mates. He’ll score goals like crazy and even easier than he could ever do even against Wigan Athletic.
I can say that most Arsenal fan forums reverberated with undisguised joy when he actually put pen to paper for a 4 year contract. After all the hell we’ve been through, the fear that 4th place might not be, the rancors that Champions League might end in defeat (it did…) and the awful thought that Henry has a very real chance of leaving, this news alone has neutralised the season to remember and the season to forget. In fact, the Arsenal has appeared to have just signed a new player! No other news could have made this week just that bit better!
Another word though,
I vividly remember Patrick Vieira doing a turn-around just before the year he went to Juventus. Saying that he was happy to stay at the Arsenal, loved the Arsenal and the fans and that he was to do his best to commit himself to the club’s interest. And what a disgrace!
While PV 4 was not one of the worst players of the Arsenal of the 2004/2005 season, he can be remembered as one who played with no heart but lots of distractions. If not for Gilberto Silva covering his butt for him at most times, the Arsenal may even concede 2nd spot to Man United. Like I’ve said before, PV 4 was not bad, he was just awful. Looked stupidly at the ball at times, refused to chase 50-50 strays, lost the ball like a cheap whore and took his skirt running around the park like a nancy boy (Gilberto Silva did that earlier this season, but his recent form has been excellent.That’s cool). I mean, if he wants to leave, then doggone it! Leave! Either do it properly or not at all. And don’t fool people with your reputation. Reputation is like a sand castle made with the most porous of rocks. And see what he achieved at Juventus. I don’t hear him that often at Turin do you? Pires humbled him, Cesc Fabregas made him look like the nancy he is. Nuff said.
Well, to be honest, Henry was NOWHERE close to PV 4 this season. He scored the most vital goals that salvaged the Arsenal’s tattered season and made the youngsters develop into the potent force I forsee them to be. Maybe that’s what differentiate the Arsenal legends from mere Arsenal vagabonds. Henry did shake his head in utter negativity at more times than others though. It’s ok, first time captain right? Learn more from John Terry. This guy is no wuss and eats gunpowder for his English breakfast. And Henry was the captain to lead by example. He cut short Sol Campbell’s celebrations and got the whole team to mosey back to the kickoff line ASAP. After the final whistle, he didn’t minced or made pate of foie gras of his usually diplomatic comments to opposing teams and said it like a man would. Barcelona is not a team of champions- they’re chimpions. With Eto’o leading the Afro-Spanish circus. Oh joy. Without Larsson, where’d Barca be now? Well, okay, at least they still got Frank Rijkaard. And I don’t touch Dutch legends! It’s taboo.
The absolutely crazy news that Henry signed till the end of his career made a devastating Champions League disappointment seem now like a Mickey Mouse (League Cup) cup final lost and made the team never seemed like a lost potent force. And Theo Walcott? Monsieur Wenger was right to choose Adebayor and Abou Diaby. So WTF with Walcott’s detractors? He’s Henry’s understudy next season! Where Bergkamp has nurtured van Persie to the level the Rotterdammer is now, so too will Henry and more. It’s so exciting being a Gunner right now!
Long live King Henry!