From King Henry to little boy lost
MANAGERIAL BOW PROMISED SO MUCH BUT RAPIDLY TURNS INTO SHAMBLES FOR FRANCE LEGEND
WINLESS IN 15 matches and coming off the club’s heaviest European home defeat, it could well get worse for Thierry Henry and Monaco this weekend. The visitors to the French Riviera are no less than runaway Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain.
Monaco’s flickering Champions League knockout hopes fizzled out completely with a “shameful” 4-0 defeat by Club Brugge in midweek, leaving Henry still chasing his first victory as manager since taking over from Leonardo Jardim.
The odds are massively stacked against his injury-depleted side ending that wait on Sunday. Monaco have lost their last seven meetings with PSG, including a 7-1 thrashing in the last league clash in April.
Meanwhile, PSG are off to a record-setting start with 12 successive wins, the best-ever start to any of Europe’s so-called big five leagues – Spain, England, Italy, Germany and France.
“We need to try and get back on the right track. I hope we’ll find the solution to stopping Paris,” said Henry, albeit admitting “the worst is possible”.
“We’re trying to do everything to regain a sense of calm but if you don’t win it’s difficult,” he added.
“We lost another player to injury in [Kamil] Glik. That’s not going to help matters as we already had 10 or 11 injured players. I have to be positive, otherwise what can you do?”
Henry received the backing of France boss and former teammate Didier Deschamps, Monaco’s coach when they reached the 2004 Champions League final, who believes the 41-year-old can excel in management.
“He is starting in a tough and difficult situation,” said Deschamps. “He’s just beginning but he has all the abilities to become a very good coach.”
PSG will look to put a turbulent week off the pitch to one side. The club has come under scrutiny following Football Leaks revelations about their breaches of Financial Fair Play regulations, while a probe is underway into claims that young players were subject to racial profiling by talent scouts.
Monaco owner Dmitry Rybolovlev also made the headlines on Wednesday after the Russian billionaire was charged with influencepeddling and bribery in connection with a fraud case involving a Swiss art dealer.
No one expected Henry’s task to beeasy. When he replaced Leonardo Jardim on October 13 he inherited a team that had won just once in 10 games – but two journalists who specialise in European football told the BBC it’s far worse than even he had imagined.
‘An absolute nightmare’
“It’s just a mess, chaos. I do feel for Thierry because I don’t think he realised how bad everything was already,” said Julien Laurens.
“And I’m not sure he has the tools to rescue a team that has won just one game all season, back on 11 August.
“I think he could be a good manager run and at worst remain just outside the top four at home to a Wolves side who have faded recently after a great start on their return to the top flight.
Fixtures (10pm Thailand time unless stated)
Cardiff v Brighton (7.30pm) but right now, in a situation of crisis, I am struggling to see how he can do better, because the team is destroyed. It looked like a fairytale but it’s turning in to an absolute nightmare.
“Right now they look like one of the worst teams in the French league. Tactically Henry seems lost, he keeps tweaking the formation and the players, putting more and more young players on the pitch, who are not suited for this situation.
You wonder if he is still in the mode of being a player and not a manager.
“And if they need new players in January, who would want to go to a club that is second bottom in the table?”
The well-respected columnist Guillem Balague said Henry’s inexperience is counting against him in this time of crisis.
“You need different types of coaches in these situations,” Balague said. “Someone who perhaps has lived through a crisis at a different club and knows how to hold on to what is important here.
“But also a really important point is that the board should be helping too. The first thing they have to do is change the targets for Henry, change the expectations for the season ahead.
“Someone should come out and say: ‘Okay, let’s just try to save the season, and then let’s rebuild’.
“If they do go down this season – and let’s not forget they were relegated as recently as 2011 – it will be very hard for Henry to overcome that damage to his reputation as a winner.”
With PSG a staggering 11 points clear already, Montpellier hope to maintain their surprise push as the best of the rest away to Angers on Saturday. Huddersfield v West Ham Leicester v Burnley Newcastle v Bournemouth Southampton v Watford Crystal Palace v Tottenham (12.30am) Sunday
Liverpool v Fulham (7pm) Chelsea v Everton (9.15pm) Arsenal v Wolves
Man City v Man United (11.30pm)
Thierry Henry finds himself in an even bigger mess than he anticipated and his headache is unlike to improve this weekend.