LONDON, Sept 19 (Reuters) - Arsenal great Thierry Henry is ready for another shot at management after being dumped by Monaco in January and deserves to be in the Premier League, according to former team mate Robert Pires.
Henry lasted three months in the principality, the 42-year-old World Cup winner was dismissed in January after winning only four of his 20 games in charge and with the club threatened by relegation.
The former striker worked before that as assistant coach to the Belgian national team but had never been in charge of a team in his own right.
“I saw Thierry a few weeks ago for the game against Tottenham at the Emirates and he’s waiting. He’s waiting for something, for the new challenge,” Pires told Reuters at a Global Sports Week launch event at the French ambassador’s residence in London on Wednesday evening.
“Some people say ‘Yeah, but he was a mistake with Monaco’. I say no.
“When you start like this, like Thierry, if you have only three months it’s so difficult to prove something. And specially at this moment. Monaco were so bad, it was so difficult, they had a lot of injuries.”
Pires said Henry, who started out playing for Monaco and went on to enjoy a stellar club career with Arsenal and Barcelona, had lost none of his hunger or ambition.
“He told me it was a good experience with Monaco. Unfortunately only three months. But he’s ready. He’s ready for the new job and he’s waiting for something,” said the Frenchman. “I think he deserves to have the second chance, maybe in the Premier League.”
The one club he could be sure to rule out, he added for the benefit of Arsenal fans, was their North London rivals Tottenham.
Pires, who was with Henry a member of France’s 1998 World Cup-winning squad, retired from soccer in 2016 at the age of 42. He won two Premier League titles and was part of an Arsenal side that won three FA Cups.
The former midfielder said he had no plans at present to follow his former team mate into management.
“For the moment, no. It’s not in my plans. I think it’s a great job, a fantastic job. but it’s so difficult, so hard every day with the players, with the fans, with the media, with the owner,” he said.
“For the moment I’m involved with Arsenal, like an ambassador, and believe me it’s more relaxing and more quiet. For me it’s perfect.
“I love Arsenal, I’m open to work with the first team, with (manager) Unai Emery maybe one day but for the moment it’s not in the Arsenal plans and I respect the decision.”
Of the current Gunners, Pires saw young French midfielder Matteo Guendouzi as a potential future captain and said the fans needed to allow time for new signing Nicolas Pepe to settle in.
The 24-year-old Ivory Coast forward, signed in August from Lille for an estimated club record fee of 72 million pounds ($89.68 million), has yet to score and was criticised after Arsenal drew 2-2 at Watford last weekend.
“With Lille, he was fantastic. Last season he was one of the best players, he scored 21 or 22 goals,” said Pires. “He’s a great player.
“Now he’s playing for Arsenal in the Premier League and he needs to adapt. It’s so difficult, very tough. So I want to say to the fans you need to be patient with Pepe.”
Pires said it was “a big shame” former Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger looked set for a technical role with world body FIFA rather than a return to club management.
“We need to respect his decision but one day we can see again Arsene Wenger on the bench. Where? I don’t know. But as soon as possible,” he said.
$1 = 0.8029 pounds Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Pritha Sarkar