Smudger and Henry

Can you remember when Thierry Henry was in is pomp playing for Arsenal? He destroyed teams single handed. No striker in the Premiership could touch him. His goals and assists were world class.

Yet the debate about Henry underachieving in big matches still continues.

According to so called experts such as Tommy Smyth, the Frenchman never turned up for the “big games.” The 2006 Champions League final is cited as one example.

For Tommy Smyth, scoring lots of goals against poor Premiership teams and weak defenses is not world class. In his eyes, Henry should have achieved more with the talent that he had, but because of his ego, he fell short.

Some Arsenal fans agree with Tommy Smyth. In fact, there are some that were happy that Henry was sold to Barcelona in the summer of 2007. These Arsenal fans view Henry’s ego as having a negative impact because he didn’t allow the younger Arsenal players to flourish. His demands for the ball and for Arsenal’s play to be centered around him nearly ruined the development of players such as Robin van Persie and Cesc Fabregas. This is especially true at the end of Henry’s Arsenal career, where his ego took over him. Henry became lazy and dominated the Arsenal team to its detriment.

If you look back at Henry’s Arsenal career, there are certain goals and games that stand out. His Champions League goal against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu. His solo run and goal from the half-way line against Spurs. His twisting and turning of the Liverpool defense at Highbury in 2004. His header against Manchester United in 2007. His turn and volley against them in 2000. His 25 yard screamer against them in 2004. His hat-trick against Roma, his double against Inter Milan in the San Siro.

All were big teams.

All were big games.

In the civil war that is raging among Arsenal fans, the Henry debate is crucial. If you are a Negative you downplay Henry’s contribution to Arsenal. The Negative’s view Henry as egotistical and an underachiever. They will tell you that Henry cost us the Champions League in 2006.

They would prefer Alan Smith or Smudger in European finals. Why? Because Smudger was the last Arsenal striker to have scored a winning goal in a European final. He didn’t pout, he didn’t strop and moan. Smudger was a team player and more importantly, he turned up for the “big game.”

Sumdger now writes for the Daily Telegraph. He’s a critic of Arsenal and also of Arsene Wenger. In his article a week ago, he questioned whether it was time for Wenger to leave Arsenal. He offered no replacement.

Henry broke the Arsenal goalscoring record. In fact, he smashed it. I probably will never see it be broken again in my lifetime.

That record is what Henry will be remembered for – not his ego.

Smudger on the hand will be remembered for the wrong reasons by me. His goals that helped us win two Championships, a League cup, an FA cup and a European Cup Winners cup are vanishing from my memory. It’s his negative articles for the Daily Telegraph that are dominating my memory bank when someone mentions his name. Not his goals.

Smudger – his name says it all.

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