When you invest in football at the right time & it pays off

Football is a strategy game and if you play your cards right you can keep your winning streak. Most clubs ensure that the managers and players just do that since it is a result-driven industry and business. With all the money that is at stake and all the investments made, no one can afford to let it go to waste.

But how do you put a winning strategy into place? Well, it encompasses more than just putting eleven men on a pitch. You have to think about the team's formation, select the right players for each game, make sure there is great chemistry within the team but also between the players and managers.

You make choices prior to starting the competition wishing it would just work fine. You select the best people available out there and aim for another successful season. Sometimes it does work perfectly and other times the contrary happens. And this is the time where you need to be smart and act fast if you want drastic changes. Being by acquiring new players or changing managers if needed.

We have seen it recently with the sacking of José Mourinho by Manchester United in mid-season. Following a bad start for the club, he has been replaced by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer which has proven to be a successful decision. This type of change paid off in Premier League but some investments have been profitable in other European teams as well this season.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus is probably the most illustrating example. After 9 years with Real Madrid and more than 300 goals scored, he decided to take on a new challenge. In the 30 games he has played with the Bianconeri, he already scored 19 goals. The most notorious being the only goal against Milan allowing the team to win the Supercoppa final.

Another phenomenon of the Italian League is Krzysztof Piatek. The young Polish pistolero, is worth every penny the club spent during the winter transfer window. He replaced Gonzalo Higuaín that was not showing enough results for the club (8 goals in 22 games). It seems like the Argentine striker is doing a way better job at Chelsea where he already scored 2 goals in 3 games.

Piatek had already scored 19 goals for Genoa before his transfer. After only 3 games with his new club, he already showed tremendous skills and scored 3 goals. Not to mention that he scored twice for Milan against Napoli, a decisive win that sent them through the Coppa Italia semi-finals. According to Gattuso, Milan’s coach, he is a far better striker than Higuaín and the fans already adore him.

In the Bundesliga, Paco Alcácer is another impressive player. The Spanish striker had been loaned by Barcelona to Borussia Dortmund at the beginning of the season. He made a great debut with the club on top of securing decisive wins in his early games. Management was so impressed by his amazing performances that it decided to sign him on a permanent basis. So far he has scored 12 goals in 15 games.

In Monaco, there has been a lot of drama going on lately with the dismissal of Thierry Henry and the return of Leonardo Jardim. Cesc Fàbregas joined the club in mid-January and already illustrated himself. The player scored the winning goal for Monaco against Toulouse. This was his first one but an important one. This gives Monaco its first win in seven league games and allowed them to get out of the relegation zone.

These few examples show the importance of investing in the right people at the right time. If a team is not performing well then someone has to ring the alarm and make the necessary adjustments. When done properly it can have a huge positive impact on the team’s success.

Circus at Monaco continues as Jardim is back after Henry sacking

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105 days after being sacked from Monaco, Leonardo Jardim is back as coach after Thierry Henry was suspended and then sacked as head coach after a dismal three months in charge.

Nobody expected that Monaco would go back to Jardim though, and perhaps nobody believed that Jardim would be willing to go back after being unjustly sacked the first time but that is what has happened.

It has been a circus season for Monaco, the 2017 champions who are 19th in the league table, the result not down to coaches but down to constantly selling their best players, and that is why it is a surprise that Jardim is back. Let’s remember whilst Jardim is ten times the coach of Henry he was still struggling with the club this season.

Perhaps Jardim has been promised that his best players will stay and that the tactic of selling half the team come each summer will stop. Evidently it hasn’t got the club anywhere and they may well still end up in Ligue 2. Perhaps the players were informed too and they voted to have Jardim back, if this is the case then we should expect to see an upturn in the clubs fortunes. One wonders what new signing and established international Cesc Fabregas thinks of it all- has he jumped ship from the Premier League too soon?

And what of Henry? Where does he go from here? One remembers Gary Neville’s poor stint at Valencia which seemingly finished him as a coach and it could be that Henry returns to punditry. Having said that he seems like a determined person and the Monaco job could have been a case of taking such a project too soon in his career. Henry won just 4 games from the 20 he was in charge of.

For Jardim the work must start immediately. His side lost at the weekend to Dijon 2-0 however he wasn’t in the dug out and his first game back will be the home match against Toulouse next Saturday.

The month of February looks like a tough one for Monaco with tricky fixtures against the likes of Montpellier and Lyon, so this will be no easy ride for Jardim. However despite how poor the club have been this season they are still only 3 points from safety and if the club were to get a winning run together they could still finish in midtable.

Jardim’s job is simple and that is to keep the club up, one senses, he will do just that.

Inter’s busy schedule should offer Dalbert chance to prove his worth

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“Thanks to God, I scored my first goal in the Inter shirt today. I’ve worked hard to experience moments like this, and I also want to thank my family. I did feel some fatigue this evening, but I worked hard and am happy with my performance. Scoring two goals early on helped us a lot, and we did well in terms of approaching the match in the right way and getting the result that we wanted. The team are working hard and did so during the winter break too. We all came back in the same physical condition as before.” Those were the words of Brazilian full-back Dalbert in the aftermath of the Nerazzurri’s 6-2 victory over Benevento on last weekend. Continue reading

Can Cesc Fabregas save Monaco from Ligue 2 football?

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Cesc Fabregas left Chelsea and the Premier League after many successful seasons to join Monaco, and the Ligue 1 club really need his services- but can the ex Barcelona and Arsenal star save Monaco from relegation?

Monaco have been languishing near the bottom of the league for most of the season and started 2019 in 19th place. Just before Fabregas joined Monaco enjoyed a very narrow 1-0 win in the Coupe de France against non league Canet Rousillon FC which just underlined how far the 2017 Ligue 1 champions have fallen. But with Fabregas in the ranks and Franck Passi now as Thierry Henry’s assistant the future might be bright for the side.

This as evident when Monaco travelled to the Stade Velodrome at the weekend to play Marseille- a game that everybody was expecting Marseille to win. The match finished 1-1 and Monaco came back from a goal down. It was a fantastic team effort and one wonders if the club buoyed on by the signing of Fabregas can now turn a corner?

Fabregas had a great game as he was drafted straight into the squad and manager Henry had this to say about the Spaniard. “Cesc Fabregas got better as the minutes ticked by. He managed to take the match in his grasp and read between the lines. We could have finished certain moves off better, but we’re on the right track.”

What was evident was how Fabregas teamed up so well with the Belgian midfielder Youri Tielemans who ended up getting the equaliser for the team. But of course there has to be some degree of caution and Monaco clearly are not out of the woods yet.

Even though they got a great result at Marseille the club are still in 19th position and are 4 points from safety. The good news is that they have reached only the halfway stage of the campaign and they have plenty of time to escape from the bottom three. You’d have to think now with the capture of Fabregas and Passi in the wings that as long as the player stays fit and there is calm at the club that Monaco should have enough to stay up.

On Wednesday we will find out more about the club in the second half of the season as they face Nice in the derby at home. Nice already have double the points of Monaco and are good form having lost just one game from their past five, so this match will be a great indicator if things are going to change for them.

For now getting Fabregas on a 3 year deal could be a lifesaver.

Is Franck Passi about to take Thierry Henry’s job at Monaco?

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Since Thierry Henry took over as coach of Monaco it has been a nightmare in the south of France which has seen the team stuck in the bottom two of Ligue 1. One wonders if Henry’s role with the club is coming to an end with the announcement that Franck Passi has been drafted into the team as assistant.

Passi is well known in Ligue 1 as the ‘fixer’. He has done commendable caretaker jobs at clubs such as Marseille and Lille he is if you like the man who stabilises a club before a bigger name replaces him. The worry is that Henry already knows this and may just not get on with that idea. Time is certainly ticking for the ex Arsenal legend.

One of the biggest problems for Henry has been his attitude as seen through the French media who have reported that he seems disinterested at times, easily wound up and very moody on the touchline. In an era where it is difficult to criticise the modern day footballer- see Jose Mourinho for that, Henry continues to do so and when the team make mistakes he makes it very known. For some media they see Henry as a dead man walking at the club.

It has, for sure been incredibly hard for him. Henry has lost 9 games from the 14 managed at the club with a win rate of 21%. Just before the Ligue 1 season wrapped up for Christmas Monaco had to play Guingamp at home a game seen as one that should be three points, given that Guingamp have been ever poorer than Henry’s side this season. What followed was a 2-0 defeat and more misery for Henry. What was depressing is that Monaco had just 2 shots on target against the bottom club.

They are now 4 points from safety and yet with a decent run there is every chance that Monaco will not be relegated to Ligue 2. It is true that this isn’t all Henry’s fault but he was the wrong person to bring in only having some experience as an assistant with the Belgium national team beforehand. Most of the blame must go to the owners who have constantly sold their best players that now run into double figures in the last few seasons alone. That is the real reason that the 2017 champions could be relegated this season.

Ligue 1 kicks off again for Monaco on January 13th and it doesn’t get any easier for Monaco and Henry with an away trip to Marseille. Could a heavy defeat at Stade Velodrome signal the end for Henry?

 

Thierry Henry gets first win with Monaco but a testing month awaits

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Thierry Henry finally achieved his first win as Monaco coach after his side beat Caen 1-0 at the weekend. It was a deserved victory too and means that Henry could celebrate for the first time in 7 games.

Monaco are still in the bottom three but there was a huge sense of relief after the win from the players and Henry. It meant so much and means that Henry’s win rate leaped up to 14%. After the game Henry said: “I am happy for the team and the supporters. We needed that, even if we were not completely in control of the match. We could have been out of sight sooner, and in football you don’t know what can happen. Caen like to get crosses in quickly, they fight, and we knew what to expect. The manner in which we get results is important, but we will worry about that later. (Radamel) Falcao showed that he is Falcao. He is the captain, he is there to score goals.”

Henry also realised what lies ahead for the club in the coming weeks. “We went out and got this victory, and it can help bring us some peace. It is always better when you win, but we are not getting carried away. This is just the beginning. There are still lots of matches and battles to come. I am especially happy for the squad, for all the work they have put in and not been rewarded, but we are still in the relegation zone.”

Henry talked about battles ahead and he is exactly right on that point. It all commences for Henry and Monaco this Wednesday when they must travel to Spain in the Champions League to face Atletico Madrid, Monaco can be quoted at 16/1 to win the game which pretty much says it all. There is some hope for a Europa League spot for the side but even those hopes may seem faint after this game.

After that Monaco return to Ligue 1 action against Montpellier who have been in fine form so far. They play Amiens away which could be a possible win and then come the 3 really hard fixtures. Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League and Lyon. Monaco will also face Nice in what is always a special derby and this season will have the extra spice of Henry going head to head with his old Arsenal teammate Patrick Vieira, who is doing very well with Nice.

If Monaco can get something from these games then we will know if Henry can and has created some sort of turnaround miracle. The Caen win has given Henry reasons to be cheerful but he will want that momentum to continue. A defeat looks inevitable against Atletico in a few days but that game will be all about not getting stuffed for many goals and keeping the score predictable. The next 3 weeks will be a fascinating time at Monaco, that is for sure.

Why Thierry Henry will fail at Monaco and could be gone by Christmas

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Thierry Henry has had a miserable start to life as coach of Monaco after no wins in his first six games in charge. It wasn’t supposed to be like this and the script was supposed to be written a little better for the French footballing legend, but that isn’t the case and it seems clear why Henry’s time at Monaco is already numbered.

Let’s be clear of course and first focus on why Henry is up against it. And that is easy to answer given the quality that has been sold from Monaco in the past few seasons. That is why the club were in the bottom three when Henry joined and former coach Leonardo Jardim was sacked, even though he won the title in 2017 and broke the PSG stranglehold on Ligue 1.

But the main reason Henry is in trouble is because he is a great player. In his playing days at Monaco, Juventus, Arsenal and Barcelona we remember a player that attacked and scored many fantastic goals. Especially at Arsenal and Barcelona he was encouraged to play beautiful free flowing, quick paced attacking football. And that is his downfall as a coach, because he wants the same from Monaco. With the squad gutted though this is impossible this season, what could have been possible two years ago where indeed Monaco were scoring for fun.

Henry needs to work on defence if Monaco are going to stay in Ligue 1 and if he is going to keep his job. Truth is though is that it isn’t in Henry’s DNA to concentrate fully on this department, after all he was a natural attacking player who was then turned into a deadly striker by Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.

It seems that Monaco’s nightmare under Henry will be set to continue because he will have the belief that this team can fight their way out of trouble- which simply isn’t true and they will more than likely continue to leak goals. They have conceded 8 goals in their last 2 games without reply, and both were at home.

Their next game is away against Caen in Ligue 1, a tricky side and a tough task. But then it doesn’t get any easier for Henry as his side will travel afterwards to Spain to play Atletico Madrid in the Champions League. With the likes of having to play Borussia Dortmund, Lyon and a derby in December against Nice, Monaco surely look doomed. It may not even be a case of Henry being sacked but of him simply leaving. Henry simply wasn’t ready for such a job that was laced in nostalgia. Recovery at this point would be the greatest achievement of Henry’s career.

Henry has what it takes to succeed at Monaco

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When former Barcelona star and Arsenal legend Thierry Henry was appointed as Leonardo Jardim’s successor at Monaco, hopes were high that Les Monégasques could kick on and get their awful start to the season firmly behind them. Last season’s Ligue 1 runners-up had looked listless and devoid of much in the way of effort, and so Jardim’s departure unfortunately seemed more a case of when, rather than if. Henry would then return to the club he left for Juventus in 1999 to take the reins as the new man in charge, with the hopes that the optimism could sharp be brought back to Stade Louis II and the side could start to climb back up the table. If a title tilt was beyond their grasp, at least they could have a good go at getting as much ground back as possible. Surely?

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Outstanding Lille setting bar high in Ligue 1

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After 10 games Lille are still there. There means 2nd place in Ligue 1 which is de facto for 1st place because no one will be catching PSG this season. The current French champions have 30 points from 10 games, a 100% record that was underlined at the weekend with another devastating win, this time against Amiens in Paris which ended 5-0. Job done.

As for Lille, no one could have expected such a start from a team who have traditionally struggled in recent seasons showing only glimpses of what they can achieve. This season is very different.  It was only in May that Lille pulled off a fantastic escape from the relegation zone, and the club have worked hard all summer in changing the set up of what is now expected.

Coach Christophe Gautier has come into the team last December and had a mountain to climb, but with survival came some new recruits in the summer and also the real emergence of Nicolas Pepe who is growing into one of the better players in Ligue 1. It was his goal- albiet a penalty that helped Lille win their latest game. The club have acquired 22 points from 10 games, continue at that rate and they will come 2nd and could get 80 points.

Clearly the objective at the beginning of the season for Lille was to finish in the top half- this is an objective that is being easily met, but now the team and their coach and fans must be thinking to take things a little further and finish in a European place, if that ends up being for the Champions League then Gautier would have made a miraculous turnaround.

Whilst Lille are 8 points behind PSG, they can marvel at the fact that they are 3 points in front of Marseille and 5 points in front of Lyon. Monaco who are usually a threat can be discounted this season after their nightmare start has led them into 19th position and they are a whopping 16 points behind Lille. It will be fascinating if Lille can keep up their superb start to the season.

The club have lost just 2 games so far and have won 3 games in a row, at home they alongside PSG have a perfect record of played 5 games won 5, and Lille certainly mean serious business.

On November 2nd just how far Lille have come will be put to the ultimate test when they will travel to Paris to face PSG. By that time if both teams continue to win, the gap could be 11 points in PSG’s favour or just 5. For Lille’s Ligue 1 achievements this season, watch this space.

Thierry Henry is facing his biggest challenge ever in football with Monaco

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As a player Thierry Henry only encountered success, and won trophies in all of the clubs he has played for. Indeed in Henry’s 19 year career as a football player he picked up 15 trophies and won the World Cup and European Championship with France. Henry’s incredible career has provided stints at Arsenal, Barcelona, New York Red Bulls and he started his career at Monaco, so the Frenchman really has come full circle, now being coach at Monaco.

The only problem is that Monaco are not at their strongest after years of seeing their best players being sold for millions of euros. Former manager Leonardo Jardim was given his marching orders to make way for Henry and yet this past weekend Monaco continued their trend of losing. This time it happened away against Strasbourg when he saw his team outbattled and out thought in a 2-1 loss. The final score only glossed over events as the home side were leading 2-0 until Monaco were awarded a last minute penalty.

Henry has a massive challenge on his hands because it’s quite evident that Monaco have sold off so much quality that there isn’t much left. Yes Radamel Falcao is a decent forward, but this isn’t 2011 when he was a great centre forward. His move from Ligue 1 to the Premier League was ill fated and he has never been the same player since.

Having said that Monaco do not look poor enough to be relegated, so it is strange to see that the club are in 19th place and 24 points behind leaders PSG but those are the facts. Henry has his biggest challenge in football to turn it around and it will be fascinating to see if he can do it. One could, with all validity wonder why Jardim was sacked in favour of Henry who has no coaching experience apart from his assistant spell with the Belgium national team, but no club coaching experience. Can Henry based on the fact he is returning to his first club do a better job than Jardim?

It probably doesn’t matter in the long run for him, as Monaco will simply be a stepping stone to getting a job either at PSG, which is the only other club that can keep him in France or maybe moving to Serie A or the Premier League. Though it should be noted both leagues are poor for representing black managers.

Monaco’s next games are against Club Brugge in the Champions League- ironically it’s back to Belgium for Henry in a must win game. After that they will play Dijon in what will be Henry’s first home game as manager, one he will be expected to win.