The last thing the new coach of second last Monaco needs after a run of five games without a victory is the visit of record-breaking PSG this weekend
Monaco are second from bottom in Ligue 1 and are out of the Champions League. This weekend they play table-topping Paris Saint-Germain.
Neymar’s team have made the best start in the history of French football – 12 consecutive victories – and have beaten Monaco the last seven times they’ve faced them. Last April it was by a 7-1 margin.
Thierry Henry’s career as a first-team coach is only five matches old and he’s already in a crisis. This week Monaco were eliminated from the Champions League by Club Brugge, losing 4-0 at home, and giving the Belgians their first victory in the competition for 13 years.
To add insult to injury, it was Monaco’s worst-ever home defeat in the Champions League.
This is a far cry from the team of two years ago, when Leonardo Jardim expertly led a squad containing Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva and more to the Ligue 1 title ahead of PSG and to the semi-finals of the Champions League for good measure.
Those who remain from the title-winning team – namely Radamel Falaco, Djibril Sidibe, Andrea Raggi and Kamil Glik – are creaking. The ones brought into the side are too young and inexperienced to do damage at this level.
Furthermore, Henry can’t rely on a lot of them right now because they are either suspended or injured. It’s no secret that Monaco consider themselves a selling club but that title-winning group has not been replaced adequately.
Raggi and Youri Tielemans are banned for the PSG visit while Glik on Tuesday joined a long injury list which already includes recent signings Willem Geubbels and Aleksander Golovin as well as Ronny Lopes, Lorenzo Pellegri, Kevin N’Doram and Stevan Jovetic.
It’s hard enough for Monaco to keep pace with PSG at the best of times, to do so with multiple teenagers in the team is impossible.
They have not won any of their last 15 matches – stretching back to August 11 – and Henry has presided over three defeats and two draws in all competitions.
To make matters worse, Monaco were named in this week’s Der Spiegel Football Leaks documents. Club owner Dmitri Rybolovlev was accused of personally profiting from the sale of Mbappe to PSG although the club strongly deny any wrongdoing.
Things got worse for the Russian on Wednesday however when he was placed under formal investigation for fraud. His fate remains to be seen.
This wasn’t the managerial start envisaged by Henry when he opted to leave the side of Roberto Martinez in the Belgium set-up and branch out on his own. This year Henry stepped down from his role at Sky Sports as he felt the time was right to find the perfect coaching job.
Monaco appeared to be a good fit – he spent five years as a player there and had expert knowledge of the squad by the time he arrived.
But circumstances do not seem to favour him. Monaco’s recruitment failures have left his squad unbalanced and inexperienced in the large.
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He is struggling to impose his identity on the team and has been forced to chop and change both his systems and personnel.
It is not a question of Henry having the wrong ideas, but he has been unable to make his mark on a team shorn of confidence. Their run of form has been shambolic and unless they get their act together, relegation could become an issue.
They are only clear of bottom side Guingamp by a margin of goal difference although that gap could be reduced significantly if PSG are in the mood.