Arsene Wenger speaks to former Arsenal forward Thierry Henry during a training session at Red Bull Arena in July.
Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images
Former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry believes manager Arsene Wenger will only be truly appreciated for his achievements with the Gunners when he is no longer their manager.
Wenger signed Henry in 1999 for a then club-record fee of around Â£11million from Juventus and, in his eight years with the club, he became their all-time leading goal scorer, won two Premier League titles and three FA Cups before joining Barcelona.
Henry’s departure coincided in a less successful period for the north London side and even though Wenger has managed to guide the Gunners to Champions League group-stage qualification for 17 consecutive seasons, some Arsenal fans questioned the Frenchman’s tenure given their failure to land silverware for nine years until last season.
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Arsenal finally ended that trophy drought by winning the FA Cup and Henry believes Wenger is a victim of his own success to a certain extent given that he won major honours earlier on during his reign.
"When you give people a lot they get used to it and they just expect and demand and rightly so because when you’re at a club like Arsenal people expect and want you to win and that’s the way it is," Henry, who helped Arsenal avoid defeat in the league during the 2004-05 season, told the BBC’s Football Focus.
"For me it’s a no-brainer, the guy (Wenger) has changed Arsenal Football Club. Were Arsenal successful before? Yes they were, but in a different way. Now Arsenal is recognised for the type of football they play and that’s all down to him."
While Henry was complimentary about Wenger’s achievements at his former club, he insists it will be a tall order for Arsenal to overhaul Barclays Premier League leaders Chelsea and win their first league title for 11 years this season.
"I do think they have a squad to win the league but they are nine points behind Chelsea. Somehow you have to make sure you can grab somewhere those points hoping that Chelsea is going to lose somewhere," the New York Red Bulls forward added.
"Bear in mind that Chelsea have already gone to City, won at Everton, beat you (Arsenal). Nine points (is) three defeats. In the meantime you need to win everything, they need to lose, so when you ask me how far they are (from winning the league), they’re nine points away (at present)."
Meanwhile, Wenger has revealed he would welcome Henry onto his Arsenal coaching staff when the 37-year-old retires from playing.
"It’s not impossible," Wenger told the Daily Mail when asked if his former captain could return to the club to coach.
"I welcome people who have played for us to come back but not (for just) an honorary job."