Real Money

Last updated : 24 April 2006 By Brian Dawes

On the plus side he'd get to play in the most famous club colours in world football. He'd join a long list of footballing luminaries who've worn the all white strip and he'd get to play home matches in one of the worlds classic stadiums. But given that the average home crowd in the Bernabeu has been a paltry 34,847 for league games this season. Or put another way a little over 46% of capacity, is that really such a big deal? Only three teams this season in the Primera Liga have topped an average of 30,000 and seven of their Clubs have a capacity of less than 30,000. So if he gets a buzz from crowds then the Premiership, where every single club except Sunderland has averaged over 81% of capacity, is surely still the place to be.

There are other down sides if you pitch up in Madrid. He'd be compelled to play in ridiculous pre-seasons friendlies and he'd even have to appear in mid-season nothing exhibition games on the other side of the world. He'd also get to play in a side that comprises the biggest ‘us and them' in world football with a divisive and clear-cut pecking order within the squad. As a top earner he'd be expected to be a top player perpetually, so he probably wouldn't ever get rested and therefore burn out would become an inevitability rather than an a worrying prospect for a player of advancing years. Of more concern to a discerning player however should be the fact that he'd have no idea who his coach might be in six months time, never mind for the duration of his contract. Neither could he expect a stability of leadership at board level or a fan base who might support him through any bad patches he might suffer whilst he was carrying injuries.

Given that Real Madrid have a pressing need to replace a number of ageing Galacticos and that the balance of the side is currently somewhat desperate is this really a Club that offers anything other than an illustrious history and big bucks right now? How would it feel for Henry to be part of a transitional team where he couldn't be sure that the balance of the side would be given adequate consideration? At Highbury he has proof that Wenger and the board are always planning long term. At Madrid the politics dictate that this weeks team is this weeks team and that next weeks team and finances will be someone else's problem.

If he needs the money then Henry would indeed be better off at the Bernabeu, from a footballing perspective however I don't think there is much on offer in Madrid. If Henry wants an easy time at Club level then the Primera Liga rarely if ever sees more than two or three teams in serious contention and includes a vast number of also rans. If he's keen on a genuine competition then the Premiership continues to offer a competitive match every week. It even looks set to become more challenging at the top with at least four teams in with a shout next season.

I don't believe Henry is just in football for the money, although I'm sure it helps. Worldwide fame and adoration has certainly been known to turn heads but I just cannot visualise a sensible and sensitive chap like Thierry pitching up in Madrid to ply his trade.