By guest writer Thomas Rooney
First of all, yes – I am aware that this is a topic I have covered before for La Liga Review. However, after Thierry Henry continued to receive a lot of criticism from Barcelona fans at the beginning of the new season, I had to write something on it again because I find it astonishing that someone who was so popular at Arsenal is having trouble winning over the Nou Camp fans.
Fair enough, Barcelona haven’t made a very good start to the season. After a disappointing, yet meaningless defeat in Champions League qualifying against Wisla Krakow, they have taken just one point from their opening two league games. A defeat at newly promoted Numancia was followed by a home draw against Racing Santander. These are all poor team performances though and it seems extremely unfair that Henry – who scored 226 goals in his eight years at Arsenal – is getting the majority of the criticism.
In fact, after being slated for his performance and ‘lack of commitment’ in the games against Wisla Krakow and Numancia, Henry was rested for the game against Racing Santander. This, of course, prompted reports that he had been dropped by new coach Pep Guardiola. In this game, they hardly faired much better anyway did they? Was that Henry’s fault as well even though he wasn’t on the pitch? One thing for sure is that I’d put a lot of my football betting money on the fact that Racing Santander were pleased to see Henry’s name missing from the team sheet.
All of this speculation about Henry not being good enough and being ‘dropped’ came in the build up to last night’s Champions League game with Sporting Lisbon. For this game, Henry was recalled to the starting line up and in my opinion showed why he should never have been dropped in the first place or at least why the poor Barcelona performances were not completely down to him. The former Juventus man was threatening throughout and made several trademark runs, coming close to scoring on at least two occasions. Barcelona won the game 3-1 and it has to be said that Henry made a valuable contribution to the victory.
After the game, Henry responded to some of the criticism he had been receiving, by stating that it is '11 players who lose a game, not one’. These are more than valid views from the Frenchman who can’t seem to do anything to win the Barcelona fans over. Even after being the club’s leading scorer last season, they were still not convinced.
I personally wonder what is going through Henry’s mind at this stage. Is he regretting the move to Spain? He was, after all, adored by Arsenal fans in England. Now he has given all that up to be slated in the press after every defeat that Barcelona suffers.
Don’t get me wrong, I am aware that Henry hasn’t been consistently brilliant since moving to the Nou Camp. However the way he is being treated is not suitable for a man who, I believe, always gives his all. I’d always place a football bet on Barcelona winning more games than they lose with Thierry Henry involved – no doubt about that. Now get off his back.
Thomas Rooney – Freelance Sports Journalist