Football

Montreal coach Thierry Henry playing waiting game with MLS in limbo

Thierry Henry is adjusting to life on pause with the Montreal Impact, as the Major League Soccer (MLS) side await the end of the coronavirus shutdown.

Former France, Arsenal and Barcelona star Henry took over as coach of Montreal ahead of the 2020 season, but saw his reign effectively put on hold after just two games when the Covid-19 pandemic brought sport in North America to a standstill in March.

Speaking on a video conference call on Tuesday (April 28), Henry said he is staying positive as he waits to see how the situation plays out.

MLS chiefs have said the league won’t resume until June 8 at the earliest, as they work through different scenarios which could allow the 2020 season to be completed.

“I am sure MLS commissioner (Don Garber) and the others are working extremely hard to figure out what we are about to do,” said Henry, who spent five seasons in the MLS with New York Red Bulls as a player.

“Nobody knows what’s going to happen. We are waiting to see if we are going to play football again.

“All we can do on our side is to be focused and prepare for whatever is going to come our way. They are going to take the decision and we are going to have execute whatever they want us to execute."

Henry, who spends his day training and cooking, admitted, that his work with staff had run into difficulties caused by the absence of fresh video footage.

“One thing that’s weird is usually you tend to watch a game to see if you can learn something from other coaches, which is normal,” he said.

“Right now, obviously there are no games on TV. So usually, with the staff, we watch games and we are like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting, I would never have thought about whatever thing that you saw’. And you try to implement it.

“But yeah, that’s a tricky one, because you’re looking at old videos that we kind of went through already with the players individually or as a team.”

Despite the complications off the field, Henry said he had been encouraged by the progress made within the squad since his arrival.

Canadian outfit Montreal were second in the Eastern Conference after picking up a win and a draw before the league was halted.

“I always mention (Liverpool manager) Juergen Klopp,” Henry said.

“It took him 3½ years to do what he’s doing with Liverpool. It doesn’t happen just like that. So we were kind of getting somewhere. It was early stages.

“Guys were starting to understand what we wanted and how we wanted to play, with intensity, togetherness and fight... but then you have to stop.”

Canada’s three MLS franchises – Impact,  Toronto FC and Vancouver Whitecaps – will present additional challenges for Garber.

Canada and the United States, who closed their border to non-essential travel in March, have agreed to extend the closure until May 18 and could extend it even further.

More problematic, Quebec, the hardest hit of the Canadian provinces by the outbreak, last week announced there would be no sports, festivals and cultural events until Aug 31.

If, however, MLS is unable to restart, it would be a huge disappointment for Henry, but the Frenchman said health and safety were more important than football.

“It’s a world problem at the moment,” France’s all-time leading scorer said.

“We’re all one country right now. In a way wherever you are, we’re all worried about our families, thinking about how everyone is, making sure we’re respecting the rules by staying home.

“We all need to be together as human beings.” – AFP, REUTERS

FootballThierry Henrymajor league soccermlsmontreal impact