Thierry Henry sacked, Leonardo Jardim returns and yet Monaco could still be relegated from Ligue 1

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If anything at least it hasn’t been a quiet forgettable season for Monaco. The 2017 champions and the only team to stop PSG winning the league since 2012 are in 17th place and have a realistic chance of being relegated.

Thierry Henry infamously replaced Leonardo Jardim who had guided the club to their Ligue 1 win and had done pretty much nothing wrong to be sacked in the first place. This was proven just 4 months later when Henry couldn’t even buy a win and was sacked as Monaco lay in the bottom three. He was inevitably replaced by Jardim and Monaco’s fortune swiftly turned around, well at least, for a few weeks.

It seems though that Jardim and possibly even Henry were not the root of the problem and the real problem for the club is that for many seasons they have constantly sold their best players. Run as a business Monaco have been terrific one of the best clubs in Europe, buy cheap and sell large. Clubs such as Manchester City and PSG have spent hundreds of millions acquiring the talent pool from Monaco. That is all very well and good but was it worth it to be playing in Ligue 2?

Jardim has simply not been able to turn things around enough for a club who have slumped in the past month. Their latest defeat was against newly promoted Nimes losing 1-0 and Monaco are 17th. The problem for the club is that they are only in this position on goal difference. Caen have found excellent form and have the same number of points on them on 33. And that is not all, Dijon’s victory over Strasbourg at the weekend means that they have 31 and remain a threat and there is still 2 games to play in the league.

Monaco have lost 3 of their last four games and from their last 10 games they have won just once. Their last victory came 2 months ago when they beat Lille. Indeed that has been a sticking point with the club. Their last two wins came against Lille who are 2nd and Lyon who are 3rd, but they have had a hard time beating teams just above them and around them which could ultimately be their downfall.

Will Monaco survive? Well if they finish 18th that is no longer automatic relegation in France and instead they would partake in a play off against the 3rd place Ligue 2 side to see who would be promoted and relegated. Monaco’s last two games are at home to Amiens and then away in the derby against Nice. How ironic that it is Nice who could end up sending them down?

The Amiens game then is massive and win that and that should be enough to fend off the challenge from Dijon. Plus Dijon have to play PSG away from home next, and yes whilst PSG have been in poor form, no one is expecting them to lose that match. So Dijon do look down. As for Caen that is the real worry for Monaco, since Caen would be 6th in the league on form.

Caen have to play Lyon away which is going to be incredibly tough and then finish the season with a home game against Bordeaux. It’s going to be close and both Caen and Monaco could finish on 36 points.

While the excitement of who would win Ligue 1 felt done and dusted by Christmas the relegation battle is only just heating up with 2 games to go.

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.

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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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.

Will Thierry Henry’s choice to coach Monaco end in tears?

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French football legend Thierry Henry has finally taken the step into first grade management and signed on to become Monaco’s new coach on a three year contract.

On the face of it Henry’s decision makes perfect sense. He is a former player of the club, Monaco have been a solid outfit for the past four seasons, winning the league in 2017 and they have a billionaire Russian owner in Dmitry Rybolovleva. Plus let’s not pretend that living in Monaco for Henry will have its advantages with one being that his salary will be tax free.

As assistant coach to Roberto Martinez with Belgium, Henry has learned the ropes and saw the national team go all the way to the semi finals of this summers World Cup. Recently Eden Hazard, the man of the moment spoke very highly of Henry’s coaching abilities and he should on the face of it do a solid job with Monaco.

But one can’t help but feel that Henry will really be up against it. Look at previous coach Leonardo Jardim who was sacked on Thursday after spending almost six seasons with the club. Jardim had done a great job and Monaco began to be successful under him, culminating in deep Champions League runs and then stunning PSG who have dominated Ligue 1 since 2012 to win the league in 2017. Monaco at times have had the perfect team, scoring many goals and being wickedly decisive in defence.

However the reality is that the Russian owner has an agenda of scouring Europe to buy potential and then selling on to the highest bidder. The list really is endless, the talent that has left Monaco in recent seasons including Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and of course Kylian Mbappe. Sure the sales have brought in over £500m to the club, but the owner is already a billionaire so the agenda, at least on the face of it seems a little warped.

What has happened as a result is that Monaco are not competing anymore and when Henry arrives at Stade Louis II he will do so with his team in 18th place and 20 points behind PSG. Monaco have won just 1 game this season which was on the opening day of the campaign away to Nantes. No wins at home and a winless run for 2 months does not bode well.

However the good news is that the appointment of Henry will indeed rally the players to start to pick up points and play better. The worry is how long will this last? A few weeks, a few months? Surely Henry has discussed the selling of players too and one wonders if he has assurances that the bulk of quality at the club will not be sold. History says they will and so Henry’s move to Monaco may not be the dream one that everyone is expecting. For sure the next few months will be very interesting indeed for the former Arsenal great.

Arsenal legend Patrick Vieira’s nightmare in France continues

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French music legend Johnny Hallyday once sung ‘It’s a long way home, in the night alone’ which could well have reflected Patrick Vieira’s mood at the Allianz Riviera on Saturday evening. His players shattered, confused and outplayed had just been dished out a 4-0 defeat. But their opponents had not been PSG, Monaco or Lyon but Dijon who, a few seasons ago, were playing their football in Ligue 2.

Vieira who is usually very calm and upbeat looked like a broken man at the side lines as he witnessed another inept display that means he is still waiting for his first win as Nice manager. This result followed a shock loss at home against newly promoted Reims, then soon after his team were heading for defeat away to Caen before finding an equaliser in the final ten minutes of the game. But with this Dijon defeat the club are now in 17th place and have conceded 6 goals, on average 2 a game. Only Angers with 8 have shipped more and their currently bottom of the league.

Last season Nice won 15 games and finished in 8th place and Vieira was brought in after his 2 year tenure from MLS side New York City. It seemed like the perfect fit, Vieira a French football legend in charge of a French Ligue 1 club and it was also very refreshing to see that a top tier team were appointing a black manager. So what gives and why have Nice got off to such a terrible start in the league?

The first warning sign was when the club were willing to listen for offers for their forward Alessane Plea. A player who had scored 21 goals in all competitions last season including 16 in the league. The former Lyon player had also struck up a working relationship with fellow forward Mario Balotelli. In the end Plea rejected moving to the Premier League where West Ham and Newcastle were offering him a kings ransom in wages and instead chose the Bundesliga and signed for Borussia Monchengladbach for a reported 25m euros.

Plea’s sale was good business for a club like Nice, but only in monetary terms, and the sale on the face of it seemed like an odd one. And then we turn our attentions to Balotelli the other half of Nice’s strike force who scored 26 goals last season and has in some ways rejuvenated his career at Nice. If nothing else he has been at his most consistent in the south of France. The problem is that consistency for Balotelli is two sides of the coin and that means his negative side so for the third time at the club he was suspended. This meant missing the first 3 games of the new season.

For Vieira he has been able to play a front three at home which he prefers. However this includes pushing Allan Saint-Maximin up front but he’s in reality more suited to a midfield role. Vieira will be able to roll the dice once more next week when Balotelli will be available to him and surely he will pick the Italian.

Nice need a lift and goals, who thought that responsibility would fall to Balotelli who once when playing in England needed help to put a football bib on. But the truth is Balotelli would relish such a challenge to help his club and cheer up the fans who he has a special relationship with.

As for Vieira whether he can turn around the clubs negativity is yet to be seen. But in France there is talk that another French legend Thierry Henry is set to take over at Bordeaux and we could witness two ex Arsenal team mates coming head to head as managers in France. The thought seems mouth watering, the question is, will Vieira still be there to witness that himself?