Skip to content

Mike Petke speaks on his relationship with Thierry Henry

Jan 25, 2013, 9:50 AM EST

Colorado Rapids v New York Red Bulls Getty Images

One problem with Mike Petke’s potential to spin this fortuitous Red Bulls’ coaching opportunity into career gold: his success or failure may not tell us much about Petke’s true capacity as a professional coach.

Rather, it may speak only to Petke’s ability to get along with one man: Thierry Henry.

With David Beckham’s departure from MLS, Henry (pictured, along with Kenny Cooper) inherits the chair as Major League Soccer’s preeminent global superstar. (Not to mention still its highest paid, with a guaranteed compensation of about $5 million.) Even before, Henry could be something of a prima donna, unwilling to play on artificial turf, moody around the media and unafraid to speak his mind about what best suits the team, personnel-wise.

In fairness, Henry’s fabulous talent (even at age 35) gives Petke a big leg up in terms of competitive advantage against some of the clubs he’ll face. And yet …

As a first-year manager, Petke has plenty on his plate. Being asked to manage the tricky politics involved here is a heaping helping of potential headaches for any boss, let alone one on the business end of a substantial learning curve.

Don’t forget, Henry is one of France’s best players ever. The Red Bulls soccer operations are now being steered by a Frenchman, former Liverpool boss Gerard Houllier. That would seem to give Henry extra clout, should his ideas on the team ever arrive at odds with Petke’s, a troubling situation for any manager, much less one with no skins on the managerial wall.

At any rate, here’s what Petke said yesterday about his relationship with Henry.

I’ve been around the team, I know the players. We have a good relationship. Before he [Henry] came here I didn’t think anyone was as passionate about the game as I was. Whatever it is, Ping Pong, cards, whatever, he wants to win. I put him in the same category as guys like Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant in that respect. Nothing has changed. No one will be coddled. They are human beings and men and I will treat them like men.”

Which is a great attitude for a manager – so long as everybody inside that locker room, Henry and everyone else, is committed to acting like men and not like little boys.

Latest Posts
  1. China to require every kid to play soccer

    Dec 17, 2014, 6:02 PM EST

    U20 Women China Germany Soccer AP

    China making a big, big play into soccer.

  2. League Cup Semi-Finals: Liverpool vs. Chelsea and Spurs vs. Sheffield United

    Dec 17, 2014, 5:09 PM EST

    Tottenham Hotspur v Newcastle United - Capital One Cup Quarter-Final Getty Images

    Three Premier League sides make the semi-final along with League One’s Sheffield United.

  3. Liverpool 3-1 Bournemouth: Reds avoid upset, head to League Cup semi-finals

    Dec 17, 2014, 4:39 PM EST

    Raheem Sterling Getty Images

    Liverpool shook off their poor form to beat Bournemouth and qualify for the League Cup semi-final.

  4. Radamel Falcao wants Manchester United stay, unsure if it will happen

    Dec 17, 2014, 1:50 PM EST

    Can Falcao star for United? AP

    Falcao wants to stay at United. But should the Red Devils splash the cash on El Tigre?

  5. Men in Blazers podcast: Man United’s romp, Arsenal’s form and more

    Dec 17, 2014, 12:56 PM EST

    meninblazers

    Rog and Davo talk Manchester United’s shaming of Liverpool and Arsenal’s return to potency.

  6. American lawyer Michael Garcia resigns as FIFA’s ethics prosecutor

    Dec 17, 2014, 11:06 AM EST

    64th FIFA Congress 64th FIFA Congress

    Garcia walks away from FIFA after his appeal against how his own work on alleged corruption in the World Cup bid process was represented.

  7. Report: New England Revolution, Orlando City battling it out for Robinho

    Dec 17, 2014, 10:00 AM EST

    AC Chievo Verona v AC Milan - Serie A Getty Images

    Are two MLS teams fighting it out for the Brazilian winger?

  8. Liverpool’s injured Daniel Sturridge to link up with Boston Red Sox

    Dec 17, 2014, 9:20 AM EST

    Manchester City v Liverpool - Premier League Getty Images

    Liverpool’s star man to spend time with medical specialists from the Red Sox.

  9. VIDEO: Jose Fonte slams Southampton after defeat at third-tier Sheffield United

    Dec 17, 2014, 8:38 AM EST

    Swansea City v Southampton - Premier League Getty Images

    Saints have now lost five on the spin. The latest loss was the most embarrassing yet.

  10. Liverpool reportedly chasing Petr Cech, Guillermo Ochoa

    Dec 17, 2014, 7:58 AM EST

    Mexico's goalkeeper Ochoa takes part in a practice session at Azteca stadium in Mexico City AP

    After Mignolet is dropped, Reds are apparently lining up two replacements for January.

  11. Celtic offers free tickets to unemployed supporters for post-Christmas game

    Dec 16, 2014, 10:45 PM EST

    Celtic FC v FC Salzburg - UEFA Europa League Getty Images

    That’s a good look for the Scottish giants during this holiday season.

  12. Over there? Underwear? Can’t sue Cristiano Ronaldo if you can’t find Cristiano Ronaldo

    Dec 16, 2014, 9:52 PM EST

    Morocco Soccer Club World Cup AP

    As easy as Ronaldo serves up passes to teammates, it’s very difficult to serve him papers.

  13. MLS: Mauro Rosales is returning to Vancouver, and Alvas Powell’s a full-time Timber

    Dec 16, 2014, 9:00 PM EST

    Vancouver Whitecaps v FC Dallas Getty Images

    Portland acquired Powell’s rights from Portmore after carrying him on loan last season.

  14. A selection of Thierry Henry’s finest quotes

    Dec 16, 2014, 7:58 PM EST

    Red Bulls Henry celebrates after scoring against Impact during their MLS soccer match in Montreal Reuters

    “The moment I’ve got a ball at my feet, I’m happy.”

  15. Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup: Everyone’s going to Liverpool; Cole back to London?

    Dec 16, 2014, 7:17 PM EST

    Slovakian international Marek Hamsik has been one of Italy's best players this season, scoring five times in as many games during Napoli's 6-0-1 start. (Photo: Getty Images.) Getty Images

    It’s officially the biannual time of year that is silly season in the world of transfer rumors.

  16. Report: GM Garth Lagerwey leaving Real Salt Lake for Seattle

    Dec 16, 2014, 6:09 PM EST

    mlssoccer.com mlssoccer.com

    RSL assistant coach Craig Waibel has been promoted to technical director by the club, as it looks to fill the void left by Lagerwey.

Featured video

Man United thrash Liverpool