FOR years we bemoaned the fact that leading Premier League players always dashed for the comfort of a TV studio as soon as they’d ditched their boots.
So nobody should criticise Thierry Henry and John Terry for thinking about heading into the real world. To dare is to do, so they say.
And if either, or both, of these men decide to dodge flying cabbages at Aston Villa, rather than attract “little willy” gestures from Jose Mourinho as some pundits are currently doing, then all power to their elbows.
After Derby were re-named “Frank Lampard’s Derby” and one half of the Old Firm became “Steven Gerrard’s Rangers”, the craze for celeb bosses has been gathering momentum with Villa considering Henry, Terry or a “dream team” combination.
In the media, we’d love that. Big names sell…
So Terry and Henry at Villa Park would add to the overall gaiety of the nation, as well as the growing narrative of the Championship being more entertaining than the Premier League, which in many ways it is.
But is a big-name rookie boss really what Villa need after one relegation, two changes of ownership, a play-off final defeat and a whole heap of turmoil?
Henry was part of Roberto Martinez’s backroom staff as Belgium finished third at the World Cup.
Terry earned good reviews from many Villa players during his season as a player there. But their proposed managerial partnership has always felt contrived.
One of the greatest forwards of the Premier League era teaming up with one of the greatest defenders — yet could there ever be any chemistry between them?
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If you’ve got a rookie manager in charge of a big club, wouldn’t you prefer he had an experienced assistant to lean upon?
It’s admirable that Henry has been seriously considering a stab at management — although he’s clearly not rushing into anything after two flirtations with Villa, one with Bordeaux and now the possibility of Monaco.
He was earning absolute shedloads on a cushy number at Sky, so going into coaching with Belgium was pretty ballsy in itself.
Yet some who’ve worked with Henry doubt whether he has the requisite level of selflessness or empathy to be a successful man-manager.
Would he be a Glenn Hoddle-style “why can’t you be a genius like me?” kind of manager?
It’s possible his dithering indicates that, quite unlike in his brilliant playing days, Henry is unsure of himself as a potential manager.
Whether Terry is officer material is a complex question because he is one of football’s most complicated characters.
This is the only man to have been stripped of the England captaincy twice — once for allegedly sleeping with a team-mate’s partner and once for making a racist remark, both allegations he has always denied.
Yet for all that controversy, you’ll also find many who speak of Terry in the warmest terms.
Terry was not just a captain but a forceful barrack-room lawyer during the days when Chelsea was largely run on player power.
And the old “captain, leader, legend” seems more of a natural leader for Villa than a No2.
One character trait is undeniable in Terry — a love of the limelight that belies a need to be loved.
The full-kit routine for the Champions League trophy presentation in 2012 was a classic.
And when Terry announced his retirement from playing this week, it felt as if he’d already done so several times before.
There was the time we wrote his playing obituaries when he blurted out that he was leaving Chelsea after an FA Cup tie at Milton Keynes, only for him to sign a new contract.
Then the stage-managed 26th-minute substitution in his final Chelsea appearance in 2017, turning an actual Premier League match against Sunderland into a testimonial.
Surely he could never blend into the background as a willing lieutenant to Henry?
But as a manager, succeeding cabbage-target Steve Bruce in his own right? It would be intriguing but high-risk.
So doesn’t this all smack of Villa’s new owners, Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, being seduced by big-game glamour and ignoring common sense?
Dean Smith of Brentford would be the antithesis of Henry or Terry.
A low-profile manager who is a proven success at Championship level — over-achieving on a small budget and presiding over some of the most attractive passing football played outside the top flight.
Smith certainly wouldn’t have the same short-term commercial pull, of course.
But do Sawiris and Edens want their club to be Thierry Henry’s Villa? Or John Terry’s Villa?
Or how about Premier League Villa instead?