Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Better Red Than Dead: Peter Griffin Edition

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OK, so word comes out in the last couple of days that Thierry Henry has a chronic Achilles problem that has affected him for seven years. Alright. Look. As much as I'm not thrilled about that - I think it really sucks, actually - I can accept that it's a fact. He's been an elite athlete for decades and I get that some parts have worn down. That we paid $5.5 million a year for four years for what might be a lemon with what were, apparently, known injuries is another story, but my point is that I'm not going to jump up and down screaming about an injury. It's sports, they happen.

BUT... I DO have a problem with how both Henry, and the Red Bulls coaching and training staff, are handling this situation. They all revealed this information this week, but it's something they seem to have known about. So, then, my questions are, why is he playing the way he is playing? And why are we using him the way we are using him?

More specifically, if Backe knows Henry has this nagging injury that has plagued him for years, then why is he always leaving him on the pitch for 90 minutes (except for last year's home playoff leg, of course)? Why, for the past two matches, have we subbed off Dane Richards and Juan Agudelo, the only two players who have managed to score for us this season, while we leave the injured Henry, ineffective in both matches, on the pitch?

Also, it sounds like this is the kind of injury that is going to require Henry to manage himself as well. If he's not going to be able to give it his all for 90 minutes, then why the hell is he tracking back so much? How many times do I look up to see him running behind Tainio and Miller chasing the ball? He was running around like Ballouchy did in the Columbus match. I had to look twice on Saturday to make sure they hadn't swapped jerseys! A coach (we do still have a coach or two, don't we?) absolutely MUST tell him, "Look, Thierry, STAY UP TOP! We understand that your ability to go full throttle is limited, so, when the opportunity comes to release you, we need you to have that extra fuel in your tank. STOP WASTING IT RUNNING ALL OVER THE PITCH. Save it and use it when it will do the most good!"

I swear. I mean, WTF?! I really do get it - he's 34, not 24. I personally don't know one person who turned 30 and didn't wonder what the hell happened to themselves. But, just like a young power pitcher in baseball needs to learn some breaking pitches later in his career if he doesn't want his arm to fall off, Henry needs to figure out how to play with a 34-year-old body. He's had one thing or another wrong with him almost since the moment he set foot in Red Bull Arena. He has to adjust to the reality of his older body, and his coaches and trainers need to help him, force him, to adjust.

And that's what's really grinds my gears.

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