Monday, 2 September 2019

Monaco: A Fallen Giant Desperate To Rise Again

A Giant of European football has fallen and is struggling to get back on its feet. Yes, Monaco’s va va voom has turned into a damp squib in recent seasons with the club slowing falling from heights it once peaked at. The decline at Monaco has quickly descended and there is real worry across the Principality that things are only going to get worse. Times have been tough with their title success of 2017 seeming a very distant memory. Since that sensational win, the club has severely fallen down the Ligue 1 table and narrowly escaped the grips of Ligue 2 finishing a dismal 17th last season. This season has started similarly to how their last campaign ended with the Principality side collecting just 2 points from their opening 4 league games and the pressure is mounting on Leonardo Jardim, the players and the Monaco hierarchy with the fans majorly unhappy. There are several issues at Monaco and things are looking grim for a proud football club which represents the people of Monaco.

The problems have been apparent since their sensational title win of 2017. Their squad was littered with talent, pace, quality and strong togetherness but the core of that team was ripped apart with the owners choosing to take the money which stock was high. The selling club ethos has made a return to Monaco in the last two years which shouldn’t happen to a team expected to compete amongst Europe’s elite. But clearly, Monaco have the ability to make it rain having made over £500 million on players with the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Benjamin Mendy, Fabinho, Thomas Lemar and Youri Tielemans waving au revoir for significant money. Monaco’s attempts to replace them have flattered to deceive with many disappointing and struggling to make the desired impact. Their transfer activity of the club has revolved around quantity over quality in recent seasons and this has led to poor results, managerial changes and fan unrest. Monaco have signed over 30 players since their 2017 title success and over half of the players have either been sold or loaned out within their first year at the club and that is hugely unsustainable. Monaco’s transfer strategy needs a serious reboot with the club slowly shutting down and settling for survival in Ligue 1. The club has made some positive waves in the recent window acquiring Wissam Ben Yedder from Sevilla who could be a game changing signing for Les Monégasques. They’ve also looked to get the fans back to the Stade Louis II by bringing back Tiemoue Bakayoko following a disappointing spell at Chelsea. Bakayoko is back to revive his career and he will be hoping to help Monaco revive as a football club.

Monaco’s issues run skin deep in the club with majority owner Dmitry Rybolovlev having to reaffirm his commitment on several occasions with rumours of him selling his shares in 2018 as well as fan unrest when Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez were sold in 2014. Rybolovlev has always shown he cares for the club and he was just as a proud as the fans in 2017 but there always seems to be a new controversy brought to his door and that brings unwanted publicity for a famous football club who of course have royal connections. The rumours of a sale died down and his transfer business this summer would suggest he remains fully committed to the club. However, for reasons not known, some of Monaco’s hierarchy have left the club in recent months and years including Michael Emenalo who was Monaco’s technical director until he resigned just before this season started. Emenalo had so much success at Chelsea but failed to bring his spark to Monaco and ultimately the lack of ignition saw him pay the price for Monaco’s disastrous 2018/19 season. He was part of the team making several poor decisions including dismissing Leonardo Jardim, hiring Thierry Henry and sacking Henry. Total chaos engulfed the club last season and stability will be top of the priority list this season.

Issues off the football pitch are one thing but, things on it have been just as bad. The Principality club won just 4 games at the Stade Louis II last season and overall amassed a pathetic 18 points from their 19 home games which is desperately poor. To put that into perspective, only relegated Caen and Guingamp had poorer home records. Their home form is showing no signs of improvement this campaign notching a solitary one point in their opening 2 league games. Leonardo Jardim must cure Monaco’s severe case of homesickness in the next few months otherwise another season of struggle will become all too real. Another major issue is their leaky backline which Henry and Jardim couldn’t fix. Monaco conceded 57 league goals last season with only Nimes, Dijon and Caen conceding more. Several defenders have walked in and out of the club in recent transfer windows, so it is no wonder they are leaking goals like it’s out of fashion. This season would suggest the leak is getting worse with Monaco conceding 10 goals in their opening 4 league games. Winning football matches won’t be a reality unless their leaky defence is fixed in the coming weeks. Monaco are screaming out for a settled, consistent team which has been lacking for several months. Jardim needs to find a winning formula and it may mean experimenting with his squad until it clicks together. Winning football matches ignites the flame and can change the atmosphere of a whole football but right now, Monaco is toxic and the cloud over the football isn’t going to lift anytime soon. There is no denying Jardim is an icon of Monaco for his work at the club, but another season of struggle could tarnish his legend status. He put Monaco back on the map and he will believe he is man to pinpoint and fix the problems surrounding the fallen giant.

It has been a very difficult couple of years for Monaco and their decline has been an extremely sad and sorry state for European football fans. A club rich in history and tradition has descended down a slippery slope with no signs of the brakes being put on. Confidence, moral and belief is low, and they desperately need a pick me up to unite the fans and the team. Finding a winning formula would be a terrific start to halting the fall and allowing the giant to rise again.

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