Less than a week after Leonardo Jardim was sacked as Monaco’s manager, a familiar figure has taken up his place. After serving as an assistant to Roberto Martinez at Belgium, Thierry Henry now has an opportunity to kick start his managerial career as Monaco’s head coach.
The Frenchman has always been a huge admirer of Pep Guardiola. Henry maintains that Pep’s understanding is well ahead of our time.
“Pep is the reference, for me,” Henry said.
The influence Pep had on Henry during their time together at Barcelona will have an impact on the Frenchman’s work at Monaco. Here’s a look at Pep’s brand of football through the eyes of Henry based on what he made public three years ago.
Space: It’s not rocket science
Pep’s brand of football revolves around a perfect marriage of space and time. The movement of the player when he’s not on the ball plays a key role in this system. The idea is to create space for the player receiving the ball by pulling his marker away. The philosophy is on stretching the field of play while in possession and shrinking it when the opponents have the ball. The latter part is manifested by pressing the opponent. Pep’s variation focuses on cutting down passing lanes rather than pressing the player on the ball.
Henry spoke about how this system is all about manipulating space and forcing your opponent to commit mistakes that you can exploit in the final third.
The 3 Ps: Play, position, possession
Henry recalls Pep’s “3 Ps” mantra which formed the foundation of his system. Among play, position and possession, perfect positioning has been regarded as the most important aspect.
Pep has always been very particular about players positioning themselves as per his instructions. The freedom to move according to your own will comes only in the final third.
In training, Pep partitioned the field of play vertically. The players on the right were not allowed to cross the partition and venture towards the left side of the pitch and vice versa. These rules did not apply in the final third and to the midfield duo of Xavi and Iniesta who were bound to do so as they orchestrate the play.
Henry has picked this from his manager while at Barcelona but how well he masters the 3 Ps remains to be seen. Henry does not have Xavi and Iniesta. Instead, he has Jean-Eudes Aholou and Youri Tielemans at his disposal.
Trust your teammate
How often is it that players have rued making the wrong run just to play it safe?
Another key concept of Pep’s philosophy that Henry has discussed is trusting the teammate to make the right pass.
This applies most to wingers or inside-forwards and urges them to run into half-spaces rather than making an outward run as a means of playing it safe and staying in possession. The crux here is to trust your teammate to play that difficult ball which sets the forward through on goal.
Possession without purpose is meaningless and this idea of trusting your teammate is a testimony to that. The purpose is to score a goal and the means to achieve this is to move in the right direction and trust the playmaker to make the right pass.
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