From King Henry to lit­tle boy lost

MAN­AGE­RIAL BOW PROMISED SO MUCH BUT RAPIDLY TURNS INTO SHAM­BLES FOR FRANCE LEG­END

The Nation - - SPORT -

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)

Satur­day

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.

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