Professionalism and Thierry Henry

A few days ago, Thierry Henry made headlines by stating in an interview with Sky Sports that he “does not want to play Arsenal.” A bunch of commenters here and on other forums jumped on that statement and claimed he should be run out of town on a rail covered in spikes while being tar-and-feathered. Conveniently lost in the whole deluge of nonsense was the sentence immediately preceding the oft-quoted part: “I’m not saying I won’t try to fight or whatever because that’s the way the game is. But I don’t want to play against Arsenal.”

When asked if he would celebrate a goal against his former club, Henry said, “Forget about it. No. I do not want to play against Arsenal, simple as that.” Again, the no one bothered to pay attention to what he actually said, merely some of the words. He said he would not celebrate a goal against Arsenal because he does not want to play against them. He did not say he would not score a goal against them. The man is a professional athlete, paid millions of dollars to do one thing–win football matches–and whatever you say about him, whatever you say about football players in general, I think it is delusional (at best) to think Henry will, if put on the field against Arsenal, do anything other than try to win.

Maybe I’m naive. Maybe Henry really just lurvs him some Arsenal so much that he’ll give up the chance of a second consecutive Champions League medal in order to advance his old team to the semifinals to face a team that will probably beat them anyway (see what I did there?). But there’s one thing that I think all professional athletes have in common: competitiveness. Not competitiveness like you and I know from our time sitting around a TV playing FIFA with our buddies or trying to beat our little cousin in ping-pong (we’re, um, letting her win, yeah, that’s it), but rather a competitiveness that gets you up early in the morning to lift weights for 3 straight hours before beginning your day, avoid foods that are bad for you, a competitive self-discipline envied by Gordon Gekko, and the will to win at all costs that–wait, are people really questioning Thierry Henry‘s will to win at all costs? Ahem:

And then, of course, if Henry is out there and you’re questioning his inclusion because of professionalism, then you’re questioning Guardiola’s professionalism and understanding of the game and his players. Feel free to do that, of course, but if you do, don’t be surprised if you answer your door one day and you’re confronted with this:

OhIthinkIjustcrappedmypants
What was that you said? Yeah, that's what I thought...
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Isaiah is a co-founder and lead writer for Barcelona Football Blog. He currently lives in the greater New York City area with his wife and daughter.

70 Comments

  1. vicsoc8
    March 29, 2010

    I’m much more worried about Henry’s lack of form than his love of Arsenal.

    • Tyler
      March 29, 2010

      haha very true, although the last few matches he’s played he really has been ‘on’ in terms of helping the flow and movement.

      • mike in africa
        March 29, 2010

        no doubt… his movement has been better than ibra and pedros’ movements combined. no joke.

        • Alexinho
          March 29, 2010

          Couldn’t believe Tommy Smyth’s two-games-in-a-row blasting of Henry from the Osasuna? match through the Mallorca match, saying how bad he was at Osasuna and how much he didn’t deserve to play against Mallorca vis a vis Iniesta. If Henry was bad vs. Osasuna, than everyone was.

    • March 29, 2010

      Amen brother. Of course, if he plays poorly “Arsenal” will be all anyone mentions.

    • mike in africa
      March 29, 2010

      most definitely photoshopped; no one can look this deadly.

  2. inNYC
    March 29, 2010

    Do we HAVE to relive the France-Ireland jump-off again? I’m still burnt not to be cheering for my people this summer. Barely back on speaking terms with Thierry. Quick, put up another post.

    • March 29, 2010

      No. You must suffer through this until I come up with something genius. Like another picture of Yaya.

        • Alexinho
          March 29, 2010

          Yes honestly. Not to bring up Tommy Smyth again, but he never misses a (fucking) opportunity to bring that back up.

  3. ballbeav
    March 29, 2010

    sol campbell will be shown by yaya what it means to be a man. sol cant carry yayas jock.

    • inNYC
      March 29, 2010

      There’s the tactical analysis I’ve been waiting for.

  4. Helge
    March 29, 2010

    The dangerous part about Henry playing against Arseal on Wednesday is that he might still have a bad game, although he wants to win. He’s had some bad games this season, because of whatever reasons… but if he starts at the Emirates Stadium, and he gets substituted because of a lacklustre performance – how many people will believe that he really gave his best?

    • Kxevin
      March 29, 2010

      Nobody. Period. In many ways, I can’t wait to have to disband the HFC (Henry Fairness Committee). The only reason he isn’t getting the same amount of stick as he usually does is because Ibrahimovic is now getting a lot more of it. I’d start an IFC, but I’m too busy celebrating the match-winning goals that he’s been knocking in lately. 😀

      If Henry has a bad match against Arsenal, it won’t be because he isn’t trying. People underestimate professional pride. He doesn’t want to let the Gunners fans see him play like shit as much as he doesn’t want to, every bit as much as he doesn’t want to let his current side down. Yes, he is thinking the exact thing that Helge is thinking. You know that he is. So he’s almost damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

      Pretty shitty place to be in, if you ask me.

      • March 29, 2010

        It’s a shitty place to be in,but the way out seems to be clear-do it. Play well, make it obvious that you’re doing your best. That way only the Arsenal fans will be booing him,and only the idiots at that. If he screws up,far too many Barca fans will have doubts about him and he’ll have to go through hell-can you imagine Marca’s glee? If he plays well enough,comes out looking like a professional,he wins.

  5. ballbeav
    March 29, 2010

    my sense is that henry, when playing all the time, cant give his best because he’s too old. once pep started playing him less, he feels better physically and is also hungrier when he does play. pep uses him sparingly and now he is giving better performances. i think he will feature wednesday and i wouldnt say a great game from him is guaranteed by any means, but i think he will give at least a respectable performance.

    • Alexinho
      March 29, 2010

      Not sure about that. Sure, his substitute appearance against Valencia? was great and definitely an ice-breaker from a long period on the bench, but then what about Osasuna? Above I defended him, but only insofar that if he played poorly, “than everyone [played poorly].” I think a string of games would do him good. Age is one thing, an important thing–but it was only a few months ago that he was starting every game.

      That said, you could very well be 100% correct. If he does start vs. Arsenal, and plays bang-on, than I suppose you win the argument.

  6. Ciaran
    March 29, 2010

    I imagine that Pep will start with Yaya, Keita & Xavi in midfield and Pedro & Messi either side of Ibra and bring Henry off the bench in the second half. He would get a fantastic reception from the fans there and it could give him a real lift.

      • Ciaran
        March 29, 2010

        I have a horrible feeling that Busi would delay on the ball too much against a young hungry team like arsenal and get caught in possession. Yaya will push the young guns around like the kids they are. Keita will crash the box, unmarked, and score a goal tomorrow night… /I saw the match already 🙂

      • cliveee
        March 29, 2010

        I will in full confidence that Pep will start Busquets, and Busi usually do very well in big matches. He showed it in the final last year against United. One/Two touches, Omnipresence intervention, clean and no nonsense. This will be the good busquets which we very much need.

        • Kari
          March 29, 2010

          Please allow me to edit your comment, cliveee:

          “This will HOPEFULLY be the good Busquets, which we very much need.” 😛

          Not really hating on Busi, and when he knows that it’s a huge match and failure is not an option, he gets his act together (he knows we know that he knows he’ll be the scapegoat if he pulls his ‘I think I’m Zidane, look at–aww shucks…’ tendency, not to mention the heading…)

          Ball winning will be crucial, so we NEED either Good Busi or Yaya… I want to call an unorthodox Xavi/Yaya/Busi with Busi playing the Iniesta role, but I also think we’ll need Keita. Since Yaya played against Mallorca, which was a big game in regards to LL, I think he’ll sit out against Arsenal.

          Still, that could be a good thing. His mental ability will rock them from the bench, a la Mallorca 😀 .

        • Alexinho
          March 29, 2010

          Good that you brought up Busi’s appearance v. United last season. I always forget about that. “One/two touches, omnipresence intervention, clean and no nonsense” is a massive overstatement. I went through a period after the final when I watched the game again and again with eyes exclusively (and strictly) on one player, and when I saw Busi, it was amazing how little he touched the ball. Seriously, five minutes would go by in which he had nothing to do with play. Same could be said for Henry.

          Does that mean he (both of them?) played well and did his part, or that everyone else was so completely dominant that they were not called upon throughout the game?

          I think Busi starts for sure, but according to form, I trust in the Yaya. For the first time this season, I think that Yaya is truly himself, and to be honest, it’s only him and Pique that I can say are as good as last season, whereas everyone else is just a cut under. Messi and Valdes, on the other hand, are better than last season (not to mention the young’ns).

  7. jordi™
    March 29, 2010

    *http://www.totalbarca.com/2010/news/henry-at-times-i-ask-myself-if-leo-is-human/

    Henry said the interview was from 2 months ago.Sneaky journalists i must say.

    • Alexinho
      March 29, 2010

      Interesting! Good catch.

      European sports journalism is crazy. If anything can be said of American sports (because, if you ask anyone from anyone else on the planet, American sports have “a long way to go”), our sports journalists have some integrity. All our crappy journalists become paparazzis or work on entertainment, but it seems that the equivalents in England go and write about football.

  8. Hlebby Hater
    March 29, 2010

    The media were being at best mischievous, at worst deliberately disingenuous when claiming a couple of weeks ago that Henry said he literally didn’t want to play against Arsenal in the CL 1/4 finals…..

    “Although you did not want to, did you know that one day you could play against Arsenal?
    “This is the first time that I have spoken since the draw. I did an interview two months ago and they asked me about the possibility of being drawn against Arsenal. I, obviously, said that I did not want to do that and think that everyone understood. But sometimes they want to invent things. This is the first time I have spoken since the actual draw.”

  9. cliveee
    March 29, 2010

    Yaya and his will power +100. murmuring in head:”we will crush you, gunners.”

  10. pillocks
    March 29, 2010

    Very,Very confident i see messi has been carrying you lot for some time now,you best hope he’s on his game otherwise your in for a nasty shock.

    • mike in africa
      March 29, 2010

      he’s never carried me before, i’m sure of that.

    • Ethan
      March 29, 2010

      WE have Ibra who has been knocking in goals again as of late, an on form messi, and xavi back in the lineup, knowing we will see a big game from alves and keita, we will be too strong all around for us to rely on just one player. our game is fluid just like the gunners, except we have better players, who will show up, and that will be the story.

    • Colby
      March 29, 2010

      Also, in cliveee’s defense, I don’t think that clivee was saying “we will crush you, gunners.” I think that he was simply captioning the picture, and we all know that the yaya KNOWS that he will crush the gunners. It’s not a question for him.

  11. Līva
    March 29, 2010

    I don’t understand those people who question Henry’s professionalism. Of course Henry doesn’t want to play against Arsenal, and if someone would let him choose, then he would pick some other team to play against. But this is the way it is and, personally, I’m absolutely convinced that if he will be on the pitch, he will play as well as he can. “I don’t want to play” is not a synonym for “I will not play”.
    Besides, when the game starts, I believe that players more or less forget about these kind of things. I strongly doubt that if Henry happens to be with the ball in front of an empty net, he will all of a sudden remember: “Oh, crap, this is Arsenal, I better put this one wide, too much sentiment and all.”

  12. RUV
    March 29, 2010

    Any talk of Henry not playing well just b/c it’s Arsenal is foolish. The man wants trophies and has always played his heart out for Barca. He’s a grown up and will surely put aside any sentiment for the Gunners when it comes to putting the ball in the back of the fucking net. Seriously people…

  13. Kari
    March 29, 2010

    You shall not Hector this! Keita admits what we’ve been thinking 3 (?) posts ago.

    *http://www.skysports.com/story/0,19528,11827_6061499,00.html

    • Jnice
      March 29, 2010

      Yeah, I saw that. Exactly, Keita. It’s so true.

    • Alexinho
      March 29, 2010

      Great catch.

      Someone put it the other day that teams playing against Madrid only try to defend. When you put it that way, well, last season about half the teams we faced only tried to defend, and we never looked at it like rolling over.

      I think Keita’s strongest point is that the Getafe coach said the day of the match that he wanted Madrid to win the title. Really, if there’s a problem with La Liga, that’s a part of it. Fulham, Aston Villa, Man City…they all know they won’t win the title, but you don’t catch any of their managers talking about who they prefer to win the title.

  14. Tom
    March 29, 2010

    I, sadly, will have to work and not watch the game. Does anyone recommend a place where I can watch the game after? Something like youtube or something. I don’t have a TV or DVR so it has to be internets related.

    SO EXCITED!

    • Kari
      March 29, 2010

      I feel your pain, only it’s school that is the villain. (…I’m still going to skip class to watch, shh! 😀 )

      -Usually mysoccerplace.net has the full games a couple of hours later, but they don’t show UCL games … Though if you’re lucky, you can find the match (e.g Arsenal vs Porto is available
      *http://www.mysoccerplace.net/video/arsenal-vs-porto-50-full-match )

      -If you don’t mind listening in (usually) Spanish, Justin.tv sometimes has the game. Just search for it.

      -If you have the Veetle player, then (if you’re lucky) someone could be streaming a channel (e.g ESPN) and you could watch it there.

      -If the above fails (and I recommend looking through the aforementioned sites quickly since they get taken down fairly fast) then you can do what I did when I had to miss a UCL game.

      1) Get the VLC player if you don’t already have it.
      2) Go to rapidshare.com, mediashare.com, the blog section of mysoccerplace.net, rojadirecta.org, matchhighlight.com, or just comeback to the blog and most likely someone will post it. IF no-one’s posted it (though I doubt it), use Google, but I really recommend you wait it out, since some of the sites are iffy, but I’m sure you know that 😛 )

      Hope that helps! Too bad you’re missing the game, but hopefully a cracker will be waiting for you!

      • Vj
        March 29, 2010

        You download the match from a torrent – especially these high profile matches.. Try googling “Arsenal Barcelona Champions League 2010 torrent” and I think you may get a few torrents.. Just make sure you have your antivirus on!

      • March 29, 2010

        You can also fork out money on the CL website to watch games.

        If you have a lot of friends who like soccer, it’s actually a very easy expense to split.

  15. Helge
    March 29, 2010

    damn, we are screwed 🙁
    *http://www.goal.com/en/news/15/germany/2010/03/29/1855124/vfb-stuttgart

    • jordi™
      March 29, 2010

      Knowing Hleb, he’ll probably blast pep on june 30th and will have to find a new home again.

    • Alexinho
      March 29, 2010

      Alright, everyone’s going to pan me for this, but…

      Let’s say he doesn’t blast himself with his mouth and he comes back. We could get the same old guy, and in that case, he’ll be on the bench. Or we could get a resurgence of one of the best dribblers I’ve ever seen. Don’t ignore it, he did contribute handily to the first-half domination that Stuttgart showed us in the first-leg. He might be a bastard sometimes, but he’s quality, and he could be our quality-bastard.

  16. Don
    March 29, 2010

    Henry loves arsenal, but he is a professional. I’m sure he will give his best, even though your Pep is mistreating the guy.

    Besides those two tap-ins and a penalty, Ibra has really been stinking up the joint for a few months now. I’m an arsenal fan, but barcelona is my second team. Watching Ibra, I don’t understand what all the fuss was about. The man can’t beat any defender to save his life, is extremely slow and not as sharp as a true striker. I’m glad arsenal will face this type of striker!

    • ballbeav
      March 29, 2010

      sadly, it’s true. can anyone remember any time ibra has beat a defender, say, on the dribble, any time this year? i cant. of course, he’s “not that kind of striker.” we’re just not sure what he is yet.

      • March 29, 2010

        yeah,in the last game where he beat two players on the dribble in the first half!

        Don,what if Ibra scores again? That’ll wipe a smile off,wouldn’t it?

        • Don
          March 29, 2010

          If you mean when Puyol passed to him, he was not fast enough to beat the goal keeper. Higuain, rooney, Ronaldo drogba beat the goalkeeper on that one

          • March 29, 2010

            Does disprove your point though-and while he’s out of touch,he isn’t that bad.Still our best bet for CF.

  17. ballbeav
    March 29, 2010

    if eboue tries diving like he did last time, yaya will have him kicked out of the national team. after all, yaya is sven-goran ericksons daddy. hes also eboues daddy.

    • Alexinho
      March 29, 2010

      It’ll be Sagna, believe it. I have some friends that are in love with Eboue, but I don’t believe in him for the big ties.

  18. Alex
    March 29, 2010

    Holy Crap my pants!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    GolTV HD August 1, 2010………….

    HOLY CRAP!!!!!!!!!

    • Alex
      March 29, 2010

      *http://www.livesoccertv.com/news/664/goltv-launches-country-s-first-bilingual-high-definition-channel/

  19. Jose
    March 29, 2010

    ISAIAH, PLEASE PUT WARNING BEFORE THAT YAYA PICTURE, I ALMOST LOOKED AT IT DIRECTLY NOW MY SOUL FEELS COLD

    • Tim
      March 29, 2010

      Watching a Bojan goal celebration should warm that soul right up.

  20. fcb-gow
    March 29, 2010

    hey guys u gauys know any good radio stations that broadcast champions league games????? pleassee

    • Blow-Grenade
      March 29, 2010

      As far as Barca games are concerned every game is live radio’ed at *http://www.fcbarcelona.com/web/english/index.html. Just click on the link during the game and there will be a link to radio. Very good commentary by Nick Simons and Steve Archibald. I love those two buffoons.

  21. Blow-Grenade
    March 29, 2010

    Although I am a big fan of Titi, I think the Ireland handball is a disgrace. He sank the Irish hearts by – lets say – not playing fair.

  22. Arvind
    March 29, 2010

    Holy crap…i shat myself after seeing the Yaya pic.

  23. lovelymofo
    March 29, 2010

    I hearts that Yaya pic. It’s awesome.

    Anyway, I ran across an article about Cesc + the Barça youth system in which you’ll find the following little nugget:

    “He does several things better than Xavi. There are areas of the Fabregas game where Iniesta would concede expertise.”

    Seriously?

    I’ll say for the record, that I think Cesc is a great footballer, but he has nothing on either Xavi or Iniesta. I’m not saying they don’t all do certain things better than each other, but I can’t figure out exactly what Cesc does better than either of our midfielders.

    Anyway, looking forward to the match – I see us coming out with the win. Hope for a goal from Ibra.

      • lovelymofo
        March 29, 2010

        Forgot to add the source:

        *http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/sport/football/european_football/article7078610.ece?token=null&offset=0&page=1

        Over all it’s a pretty good read, except for that little part. It made me go, “really?” I mean, if he was better than Xavi or Iniesta at some facet of his game, wouldn’t he be starting for the seleccion?

    • March 29, 2010

      Well, he shoots better than both of them, so that’s something. I think he’s faster than both of them too.

      • lovelymofo
        March 29, 2010

        I’ll agree that he scores more, but it’s not exactly something we need from Xavi or Iniesta. I mean, maybe Iniesta should take more shots, since he does tend to get in the box more.

        And as for speed, I’d take Xavi and Iniesta’s speed of thought (and passing) over physical speed.

        But anyway. I’ll agree with the article tho – Cesc learned the fundamentals from Barça, but he’s clearly been shaped by the English game. He should stay at Arsenal.

  24. rohanv
    March 29, 2010

    Yeah, I’d imagine you have to consider who Xavi has to pass to (compared to Cesc), when they say one has scored fewer goals than the other. It’s always seemed like Andres and Xavi are always looking for one more pass that would make the play perfect, rather than shooting.

    This is occasionally frustrating, especially in games where we’re not being allowed our fluid game, and so don’t have as many shots, but more often than not, it tends to be simply useful, possession football. That said, Cesc’s more foward, goal-scoring role makes complete sense considering the kind of opposition he faces in England and his team-mates ahead of him (especially this year, with RVP injured).

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