Photo by ISIphotos.com
By FRANCO PANIZO
HOBOKEN, N.J. — Thierry Henry might not wind up retiring after the 2014 season, after all.
Speaking to reporters at an end-of-the-year roundtable discussion, Red Bulls sporting director Andy Roxburgh said the club would not be opposed to signing Henry to a new deal once his current one expires at the end of the 2014 campaign. The 36-year-old Frenchman has said in the past that he plans on retiring once his deal ends next year, but Roxburgh insisted that there is a possibility he returns for the 2015 season.
“This is the last year of this particular contract, but there’s no reason why he couldn’t extend it,” said Roxburgh. “Right now, I don’t think he’s thinking like that because when I sat down with him when the season finished, I just asked him straight, ‘So you’re playing next season,’ (and he said) immediately as soon as I asked, ‘Yes.’
“He said, ‘I’m very optimistic about the way things are going and I want to be involved in it.’ That was enough. If he comes away with the same reaction next year, who knows?”
Henry is coming off his least efficient full season in MLS, one in which he scored 10 times on 92 shots, but the Red Bulls have mapped out a plan to help him stay fresh next year. New York intend to give its aging captain plenty of rest, especially since the club will be playing in a number of competitions.
“You never lose the quality,” said Roxburgh. “The quality is just, he’s from another level altogether, it’s phenomenal the things that he can do. People talk about his pace and things like that, but he still has explosive power. When you see him some times suddenly change pace and go past people – you see it in training every day, you see it in the games – there’s no doubt that he’s fantastic and still got this explosive power about him as well as the ability.
“What you’ve got to do naturally when someone gets to that age, you’ve got to try and manage his situation and make sure that you don’t exhaust him because someone who is explosive and creative like that, if they become exhausted, then they are no longer creative and explosive. … It’s a matter of protecting him a little bit to make sure that he’s fresh and he’s sharp, but he’s still in very good condition, Titi, and he’s a genius for a football player.”
Here are more notes from Red Bulls camp:
PETKE, ROXBURGH TO VISIT ENGLISH CLUBS
Before Roxburgh and Red Bulls head coach Mike Petke enjoy the holidays, they will head over to England for a week-long trip that will see them visit some of the top clubs in the world.
Petke and Roxburgh are scheduled to travel across the pond next week in order to take in some training sessions and a game. The duo will watch Andre Villas-Boas run a session with Tottenham on Monday, visit Arsene Wenger and Arsenal for their Tuesday and Wednesday morning practices, attend Spurs’ Capital One Cup match vs. West Ham United on Wednesday night and see how Jose Mourinho runs his Thursday morning training with Chelsea.
“It’s all part of refreshing our ideas, refreshing our thoughts,” said Roxburgh. “Not to copy anybody, but to stimulate our thoughts in training and methods and so on.”
As part of this plan, Red Bulls assistant coach Robin Fraser spent last week at Everton watching how Roberto Martinez runs his practices.
CLUB FACING TIGHT SALARY CAP SITUATION
The Red Bulls might be aiming to bolster their Supporters’ Shield-winning squad ahead of the 2014 campaign, but it is proving quite difficult.
Due to a number of reasons ranging from players receiving bonuses to others earning a full season’s worth of salary, New York are currently dealing with a tight cap space situation. Roxburgh repeatedly mentioned Tuesday how tough it has been for the club to not only keep its players, but look at potential additions as well.
“We’re doing our absolutely utmost to retain as much of the squad as we can, but even that is a nightmare,” Roxburgh said. “A number of them, their numbers are becoming the real numbers this year, like Bradley (Wright-Phillips) was only half a year last time, someone like Eric (Alexander), some of his previous salary was being paid by the previous club, so we’ve got a number of them where their real number comes into play this year. To retain them, you’ve got to bite the bullet on that.
“We’ve also got one or two we’ve needed to reward. We took up their options, but we needed to reward them a little bit for what they’ve done because their salaries were lower and they needed to be upgraded a bit. That also has an impact on us, so a chunk of our money has been used already for next season just to retain, I think it was something like, 12 of our players.”
What do you think about Henry possibly sticking with the Red Bulls beyond 2014? Like the idea of the New York brass heading to Europe to take in some training sessions? Worried by the club’s salary cap situation?
Share your thoughts below.