Thierry Henry: A victim of their own success, now Monaco rely on a starlet of yesteryear


Thierry Henry returns to Monaco as their manager nearly two decades after leaving them as a bright hope for the future (photo credit: AS Monaco).

A victim of their own success, now Monaco rely on a starlet of yesteryear

by Ryan Conway

When a 21-year-old left winger moved from Monaco to Juventus in 1999 in a seemingly innocuous £10.7 million deal, few would have predicted what would come of the slight, lightening-quick attacker in the years to come.

Even fewer could have foreseen that same winger returning to the city-state nearly two decades later, trading in a shirt with his name on the back for an office with his name on the door. The new manager recognised how fitting the move was on his Instagram post, “Having started my career with this great club, it seems like fate that I will now begin my managerial career here too.”

23 trophies later, for both club and country, including a league title with his current employers in 1997, and a plethora of individual accolades followed.

Thierry Henry’s football odyssey has come full circle after the former Arsenal striker took his first steps into club management, replacing Leonardo Jardim, who was dismissed following a disastrous start. The 2016/17 Ligue 1 champions are currently languishing in 18th and just a single point off the bottom of the table.

Henry’s mission is clear: stop the rot, and build another vibrant squad, much like the one he left in 1999. Much like the one picked apart by clubs with fatter cheque books following their most recent Ligue 1 title.

It’s a tall order indeed for a man who is yet to manage at any level. Although his time spent coaching at Arsenal and, later, with Roberto Martinez’s Belgium side will benefit him.

Jardim brought about a phenomenon during his time in France. The Portuguese manager oversaw the development of some of world football’s best. Yet there was a cost to his meteoric success. Of the 18-man squad which lost in the Champions League semi-final to Juventus, just five remain.

Roughly €367.6 million  has been made from the rest of the squad, pulled apart and sold to the highest bidder. This without factoring in fees for Anthony Martial, James Rodriguez or Geoffery Kondogbia who were all sold off in the seasons leading up to their domestic league triumph.

There was a feeling of resignation following their first title since 2000. Sharks were already circling their prized assets and the inevitable unfolded as high-profile stars went their separate ways.

The king’s ransom in return for the core of the team will be of little consolation with their current predicament.

Paris Saint-Germain reclaimed the title last term with Monaco finishing runners-up, albeit 13 points behind the club which prised superstar teenage Kylian Mbappe away for a reported fee of €190 million.

Yet what has transpired since has not exactly been a disaster until the current season. The only win of the campaign thus far came on the opening weekend, a 3-1 away victory over Nantes.

The free-scoring joy which captured hearts is gone. The 192 league goals across the previous two campaigns is a far cry from the current product on the field.

Fans have only been able to celebrate ten goals in all competitions this season and half of those goals came during the first four games of the league season. Such a poor start to the season was enough to see Jardim revealed of his duties.

The expectations for Henry at this point are unclear. Though the club have given their former player the backing he will need with a three-year-deal, suggesting Henry will be no firefighter or aiming to prove his worth to manage at the top level.

Pedigree as a player and a close connection to the club will see to it that France’s all-time top goal scorer is afforded patience. There will also be hope that working under the likes of Arsene Wenger and Pep Guardiola will have provided an elite platform in which to build Henry’s managerial credibility.

While their domestic rivals and foreign challengers continue the arms race to acquire the best from all four corners of the globe, Monaco have chosen to look a little closer to home.


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