Henry and Vieira: battle of the budding French managers

Vieira

Friday night sees two of Arsene Wenger’s former stars pit their wits against one another, as relatively new manager, Patrick Vieira, takes on extremely new manager, Thierry Henry.

Vieira has 107 games as a head coach so far. This a yawning chasm, in terms of experience, compared to Henry’s 10, though, he himself is still very much learning the trade.

Following an impressive spell across the pond with New York City FC, Vieira returned to France to try and hone his managerial ideology in one of Europe’s top five leagues. His choice of club for this return: Nice.

After a ponderous start, which was underlined by a 4-0 home defeat by Dijon, Vieira and his side bounced into gear with an away win against Lyon, and they have improved ever since.

Les Aiglons are currently on a seven-game unbeaten run in Ligue 1 and have not conceded in their last five matches.

Thierry

In contrast, it has been a cruel, punishing start to management for his former colleague, monsieur Henry.

After taking just one point in his opening four matches, the size of the task he was undertaking became clear. With a team obliterated by injuries, unsettled by a hyperactive transfer policy and lacking in confidence, it was always going to be difficult to stem the flow.

Yet, in recent weeks, there are shoots of life appearing in the mire. Two wins in their last three matches has dragged Les Rouges et Blancs off the bottom. The team bolstered by the return of some of its key stars.

However, it will be difficult to gauge Henry’s managerial ability on the basis of this season, as the only remit at this stage is to keep them in the league.

Although they have been chronically off the pace, you would expect a team which includes the likes of Radamel Falcao, Kamil Glik, Djibril Sidibé et al. to have enough quality to achieve that particular mandate.

What happens next season?

Assuming Henry keeps Monaco up and remains in the job, after a full summer transfer window and pre-season, we will be able to see his true managerial blueprint. We will really be able to see the approach he will take.

But Friday night will be a big match for both men. Because of the narrative, there will be a heightened media interest in the fixture. People keen to see which of the former Arsenal greats gets the better of the other.

Yet for Vieira and Nice, it is an opportunity to maintain their push for Europe, and for Henry and Monaco, it is a chance to scramble further up the table, a chance to lay down a marker.

Certainly it is much too soon to begin to properly compare and contrast the two managers. There will be enough time for that in the future. Friday is about grinding out the result. Getting the three points to help them in their contrasting goals for the rest of the season.

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