Even if Thierry Henry claimed in early January not to have contacted the Belgian Federation, the Frenchman, former assistant to Martinez, is the one to whom all media eyes are turning.
Logical insofar as “Titi” received the strong support of several players, Toby Alderweireld, Loïs Openda and especially Romelu Lukaku for whom, at the end of December, it did not make a crease: “Henry will be the next coach of Belgium “.
Even former coach Marc Wilmots lent his support to the former coach of Monaco and the Montreal Impact who supported Roberto Martinez in recent years, until the latter’s departure after six years at the head of the selection.
But things are not so simple and several elements come to cool the track leading to the ex-scorer of the Blues.
The Belgian Federation (RBFA) is looking for a full-time coach, which would force Henry to give up his role as a TV consultant at Amazon Prime, which several French media reports would earn him a million euros a year.
Henry did not apply
As for the method of designation, it de facto excludes the Henry track. The RBFA proceeded with a call for applications, closed on January 10, via a classified ad on specialized sites, claiming that a candidate for the position be a “serial winner” (serial winner, editor’s note), a ” tactical expert” “who will be able to integrate young players and manage top-level players”.
However, Henry therefore did not apply. For the Federation, choosing the French would therefore contradict itself.
Among the names that filtered, only the Frenchman Claude Puel and the Italian Andrea Pirlo applied, unlike the Frenchman Hervé Renard. The track leading to Dutchman Louis van Gaal has been abandoned.
The Belgians who could fulfill the criteria imposed by the Federation are not available. Philippe Clément is stationed in Monaco, 4th in Ligue 1, Vincent Kompany leads the Championship (English D2) with Burnley and Michel Preud’homme (64) has made it known that he does not want to come out of retirement.
Foreign coach and Belgian DTN
The next coach should therefore be foreign. “If you focus only on the Belgian coaches, the pond in which you can fish is considerably reduced,” Philippe Clément told the daily Het Nieuwsblad.
Time is running out, with the Red Devils playing their first qualifying match for Euro 2024 on March 24 in Sweden.
And before appointing its coach, the Federation will have to choose a technical director who should necessarily have a say in the choice of who will be his subordinate. This “DT” should be Belgian, probably to choose between Frankie Vercauteren, Johan Walem or Thomas Vermaelen.
The name of the next coach should not be known before the end of the month.
“The quality of the coach takes precedence over the speed of appointment”, insisted last weekend Sven Jacques, one of the four members of the working group responsible for finding the rare pearl.
A coach who will have the heavy task of succeeding Martinez, who left to lead Portugal, after allowing Belgium to reach 1st place in the Fifa rankings for three years while obtaining their best result in a major tournament with 3rd place. of the 2018 World Cup.