It has been an unbelievably disappointing season struggle for Monaco in Ligue 1. The Principality side who have either been Champions or runners-up in the last three seasons are very much staring at relegation to Ligue 2 if things don’t improve and fast. A season that began with some much promise has failed to materialise and problems have been seen both on and off the pitch at Monaco. They currently find themselves in 19th place three points adrift of safety after a dreadful first half of the season and so far, the second half of the campaign has shown no signs of getting any better.
Leonardo Jardim was dismissed in October after 3 match losing streak and a winless run of 8 which stretched back to the opening day success over Nantes. The man who guided Monaco to the league title back in 2017 dispensed with Monaco in the relegation zone. Jardim spent over £100 million on new players having lost the likes of Thomas Lemar in the summer transfer window. However, recruitment overall has been largely poor since the departure of many Monaco title winners like Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva, Fabinho and Joao Moutinho. Monaco have made over £300 million in transfers since their title success, but the money has not be invested well enough. This season’s recruits have flatter to deceive for much of the season. The likes of Benjamin Henrichs, Nacer Chadli, Antonio Barreca, Jean Aholou and Samuel Grandsir have all largely disappointed and struggled to settle at the club with their confidence low and form nowhere to be seen. Their most expensive recruit this window the £27 million Aleksandar Golovin has also been very disappointing with injuries and a lack of form causing concern around the whole football club. The players simply haven’t been good enough this season and Monaco are staring at possible relegation if things don’t improve.
After sacking Leonardo Jardim in October, the club went down the sentimental route for the new manager and appointed novice and Monaco legend Thierry Henry as the man to lead them out of trouble. The world cup winning Frenchman has very little experience only working as an assistant manager with the Belgian national side and throwing a novice into this kind of situation is always difficult. Henry has won just two league games since replacing Jardim and overall Henry has collected just 9 points in his 12 league games in charge and that is simply not good enough. They are winless in their last 5 games stretching back to the start of December. Henry is desperate for a change in fortunes and desperately needs a win. Henry has managed to add new faces during the transfer window thus far adding experienced campaigners both on and off the pitch like Brazilian defender Naldo and French midfielder William Vainquer. Henry has added experienced coach Frank Passi to his backroom team over the last few weeks and will be looking to him as well as his other assistant Kwame Ampadu to get them out of trouble. Passi arrives with plenty of experience having manged the likes of Lille and Marseille in his career and Henry will be hoping he is the man to help them out of danger. However, it is the addition of Henry’s former teammate Cesc Fabregas that has caught the eye with the world cup winning midfielder arriving from Chelsea for an undisclosed fee. Fabregas has already made an impact playing superbly on his debut in the derby draw with Marseille. Henry will be looking at him to guide Monaco’s young team through this extremely difficult patch, but this situation is all new to Fabregas having been used to competing for trophies.
However, Fabregas cannot fix everything, and Monaco have serious problems on the pitch both going forward and defending at the back. Monaco have scored just 19 league goals this season with Radamel Falcao and Youri Tielemans chipping in 13 of those goals which is 75% of their goals. Only rock bottom Guingamp, fellow strugglers Dijon and mid-table sides Reims and Nice have scored fewer than Henry’s team and they must find a way to score more goals whether that is playing a more attack minded team or formation, but goals are one thing they are majorly short off. Meanwhile, things are no better at the back with Monaco conceding 36 league goals and only rock bottom Guingamp have conceded more. Henry just cannot stop the flow of goals against his side and certainly the addition of Naldo will be key in stopping the flow, but overall Monaco haven’t had a stable back 4 all season with the likes of Kamil Glik and Djibril Sidibe struggling through injuries and poor form while youngsters Benoit Badiashile and Julien Serrano have been thrown into a tough situation for any teenagers starting their careers. Conceding goals is a major problem for Monaco and Henry just cannot stop the flow or keep his cool with decisions going against him in recent matches including VAR not working in their most recent defeat to Strasbourg which cost them a chance of penalty to level the scores. Luck isn’t with them, but Henry cannot rely on decisions for him to win football matches as they were given the chance of 3 points against Nice playing the entire second half against 10 men but failed to seize the initiative and could only draw with Vieira’s team. However, their biggest problem this season is their home form with not a single victory registered at the Stade Louis II this season and nobody can really pinpoint the issue. Is it because Monaco are easy to play against? Or is it as soon as they concede Monaco cave in? Nobody’s entirely sure what the problem is but Monaco have collected just 4 points at home all season and that is a damning statistic for any Monaco fan, Thierry Henry and the Monaco board. Henry is feeling the heat from all areas and certainly he was gamble when he was appointed but there is naivety from both sides with Henry seemingly accepting the job because of his sentiment towards Monaco while the club itself have taken a gamble on a novice in football management.
Times are tough for Monaco and things must drastically improve starting this weekend with a crucial clash against Dijon the side directly above them and surely it is neither side dare not lose. Monaco have been better on the road this season and must seize the chance of improving their away form and beat a relegation rival. Victory could take them out of the relegation zone and psychologically that could be a massive boost for a football club in real crisis. Henry may also assess a lack of goals in the transfer window with another striker desperately needed to add some firepower to a blunt attack. A defeat to Dijon could be critical for Monaco and they cannot afford to lose that game otherwise relegation will be smacking the Monaco door down. A crucial six pointer is on the horizon for Monaco and Henry and this is arguably their biggest game of the season with a victory as necessity for Henry’s Monaco.