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Why has it not worked out for Thierry Henry at Monaco?

Why has it not worked out for Thierry Henry at Monaco?

FRIDAY, January 25, 2019

Paris - Thierry Henry's brief stint as coach of Monaco came to an end on Thursday when the France legend was officially suspended with his team languishing in the Ligue 1 relegation zone.

There is next to no chance of him being seen on the bench in the principality again, with his sacking expected to be confirmed in the coming days.

AFP Sport looks at where and why it went wrong for Henry, whose first job as a head coach has lasted barely three months.

- Injury nightmare -

Henry took over a team who were in the bottom three after just one win in their opening nine Ligue 1 games and already struggling in the Champions League.

For all the undoubted quality in Monaco's squad, too many players were unavailable due to injuries.

Henry pointed the finger at poor pre-season preparations under former coach Leonardo Jardim, and there were still a dozen players in the treatment room last weekend.

"I am going to have to see if I can get a licence," Henry said shortly after arriving, joking that he would have to get his boots back on.

Nevertheless, in an interview with L'Equipe this week Jardim hit back at criticism of the squad's fitness under his watch.

"That is an excuse from people with bad intentions. Either that or they understand nothing about football," he said.

"You need no more than a month to correct a team's physical preparation."

- Communication problems -

Henry was a great player, the all-time leading goal-scorer for Arsenal and France. But that in itself does not make a great coach, and Henry has too often betrayed a frustration at working with players inferior to his own previous level.

"Some of the things we did were just illogical. There was a minute to go and we were just knocking the ball about in front of our own box. It was bizarre," he moaned after a 1-0 loss at Reims in November.

That has raised questions about whether he had those players onside, even if the move to appoint the experienced Franck Passi as his assistant in December seemed a step in the right direction.

During the 5-1 defeat against Strasbourg last weekend, Henry was caught mouthing a vulgar insult at an opposition player and later expressed fury at a faulty VAR system. The signs were that it was all becoming too much.

- Wrong place, wrong time? -

Henry seemed to let his heart rule his head when he accepted the challenge at Monaco.

Having sold almost all their leading players since their 2017 title success, Jardim -- who is now in line for a dramatic return -- knew this season would be immensely difficult. "I am not surprised that the team is still in this position," he told L'Equipe this week.

Henry leaves with just five wins in 20 games, one of which was on penalties and two more in cup competitions against lower-league sides.

He announced last year that he intended to strike out on his own as a coach after working as an assistant with Belgium.

Starting out at Monaco, where his glittering playing career began, sounded romantic, but Henry might now wonder if he should have accepted a different offer after rejecting overtures from Bordeaux and Aston Villa earlier this season.

- Was there any glimmer of hope? -

Monaco had started 2018 with two cup wins, reaching the semi-finals of the League Cup on penalties, before a 1-1 draw at Marseille, when new signing Cesc Fabregas made a promising debut.

Henry had been waiting to get to the January transfer window where he hoped to stamp his mark on the squad, and Fabregas would not have signed had it not been for the presence of his former teammate on the bench.

But the Strasbourg debacle and then a 3-1 home loss to Metz in the French Cup forced Monaco's Russian owner and vice-president to panic.

They could have waited until after this weekend's game at relegation rivals Dijon, and next Tuesday's League Cup semi-final against Guingamp, but instead they felt the need to act now.