February 11, 2013
HE'S NOT PULLING ANY STRINGS
Henry says he did not know who Red Bulls had in mind before Petke was named coach
By Kristian R. Dyer
|Thierry Henry on Mike Petke: "The guy is a fan, he loves the club and he played here - finished here. Fans love him. He knows the league; knows the players we’re going to have to play against."
Linda Cuttone/Sports Vue Images
BigAppleSoccer.com Contributing Editor
HARRISON, N.J. -- Don’t call Thierry Henry “Geppetto.”
The Red Bulls designated player and team captain has gotten a lot of flak this offseason from fans and even some in the media speculating that he is running the team and had a role in head coach Hans Backe being fired or the recent trade of forward Kenny Cooper. But in speaking to the local and national media on Monday from Red Bull Arena, Henry told reporters that he isn’t “pulling strings” in devising the future of the club.
In fact, he claims he found out that recently named head coach Mike Petke was given the job along with the rest of the team while training in Florida. He called the decision to name Petke, who has never before been a head coach at any level, a “clever” one.
“I don’t know who they had in mind - who they were going to approach. The guy is a fan, he loves the club and he played here - finished here,” Henry said. “Fans love him. He knows the league; knows the players we’re going to have to play against. It’ s not like he has to have a guy tell him [because] Mike knows. For me that can only be a plus.’’
After an offseason of purges, Henry is now the second longest tenured player on the Red Bulls roster after left back Roy Miller. But he sees optimism after yet another season of turmoil and upheaval for the club.
He, like teammates Tim Cahill and Heath Pearce, praised Petke for his enthusiasm as a head coach. In addition, he even invoked the name of Pep Guardiola, the former Barcelona head coach now with Bayern Munich, when he talked about his new boss. Guardiola transitioned from being an assistant in charge of Barcelona’s reserve team to one of its most storied coaches. He filled up the team’s cupboard with notable silverware from 2008-12 during a dramatic run of success.
“Some asked me the question ‘Is he not too young? [To] inexperienced?’ To get experience you have to start somewhere,’’ Henry said. “I’m not going to compare Mike to Pep but when Pep took control in 2008, after only one year with the reserves, they said ‘Why don’t we get the big name?’ The guy won six trophies in one year.”
The Red Bulls, who have yet to win a domestic title of note, are hoping that Petke can lead them to just one cup of note sooner rather than later. If not, Henry or whoever is making the decisions might make a very rash one in regards to his future with club.