Thierry Henry stresses need for time, patience in Montreal: "It took Klopp 3 years to win"

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It’s been one year since the Montreal Impact named Thierry Henry head coach and it was mission accomplished in his first season in charge as the club qualified for the Audi 2020 MLS Cup Playoffs despite a multitude of challenges from injuries and transfers to pandemic-induced training and travel restrictions that required the team to play away from home in New Jersey.

But in a radio interview with TSN 690 in Montreal, Henry said people on the outside can’t begin to understand the challenges his side faced in 2020 and he wonders what the conversation would have been like had the team not advanced to the postseason.

“I’ll be honest with you, this is by a distance the hardest thing I’ve had to deal with,” Henry said. “A lot of people talking throughout the whole year and they don’t have one single clue what’s happening behind closed doors. People like to judge and talk.

“If we didn’t go into the playoffs, let’s all be honest, everyone would have said: ‘Oh, What is this? What is that? They didn’t perform.’” Henry continued. “Nobody would have looked for ‘We were away. We were this or we were that.’ And it would have been the coach and I understand, I’m the captain of the boat and I would have taken the blame. Because that’s how it is. It doesn’t really matter. But when you look at it carefully and properly it wasn’t an easy one.”

The challenges won’t cease in the postseason. The Impact will face the New England Revolution in a single-elimination Eastern Conference Play-In match Friday (6:30 p.m. ET | TV & streaming info) which they’re preparing to play without the experienced Victor Wanyama, who is away on international duty with Kenya and would have to clear quarantine though Henry indicated the league was working on the issue.

Whatever the final result at Gillette Stadium, Henry emphasized he’s in Montreal to build over the long-term and he pointed to the Philadelphia Union and Columbus Crew SC as examples of clubs that allowed the time for that building process to take shape.