In an official statement on their website, AS Monaco announced early Thursday evening that they have suspended Thierry Henry from his duties as first team coach. Having arrived last October 13th to replace Leonardo Jardim, the former French team striker and Arsenal star failed to revive the struggling side, standing currently at 19th on the league table and recently eliminated from the Coupe de France by Ligue 2 team FC Metz.
One hundred and three days. That is the amount of time Thierry Henry held the reins during his first head coaching experience. To much public surprise, this Thursday AS Monaco decided to dismiss the former playing stars from his duties on the bench. An official press release reads: “AS Monaco announces that it has decided to suspend its duties as coach of the first team Thierry Henry from today pending a final decision.” Franck Passi will take over in the interim.
Naturally, this move by ASM’s upper management has created quite the stir. It begs the question of what exactly is going on behind the scenes of the club. While they have publicly struggled both in and out of competition, Henry’s removal still comes as quite the shock. Having inherited a flailing and injury-laden crew, it was up to him to turn things around. It can be argued that he was unsuccessful in doing so, yet most probably would have had the same results. Of course, Henry’s tension visibly mounted in the last weeks. Last weekend, his discomfort became flagrant in the match against Strasbourg (1-5) when he openly insulted Kenny Lala. He went on to give less than courteous comments at a later press conference. These incidents, however, are merely symbolic of his growing frustration and apparent inability to inspire the fragile group he so dutifully inherited from Jardim.
Four unconvincing wins, five draws and 11 losses across 20 matches in all competitions. The result? Monaco is stagnant at 19th place on the L1 table, flirting rather aggressively with relegation. Most recently, the side dropped home games to Strasbourg (5-1) and Metz (3-1), the latter match removing them from the Coupe de France.
Henry calm in Thursday afternoon press conference
Last October, faced with an already difficult situation, Monaco threw caution to the wind by signing the first time skipper succeed Leonardo Jardim. With the move, it appeared written that the ASM was willing to let the new man in charge get his bearings and install his own culture and system. This concept was further reinforced by the club’s winter mercato activity. The arrivals of Cesc Fabregas (Henry’s former Arsenal teammate), Brazilian defender Naldo, Fodé Ballo-Touré and William Vainqueur all seemed to fit Henry’s plans and needs.
At a press conference held on Thursday, Henry was collected and direct. “The most important thing is to save the club and my future is not a problem,” he said. He remembered having already gone through “many difficult passages in my career, you forget them.”
A few hours later, the news came out. Faced with the urgency of the situation and the succession of negative results, the Monegasque leadership has chosen to pause the Henry experiment. In the mean time, Franck Passi will take charge of the top flight group to prepare their next match against Dijon.
It was a tough break for Henry who by all means inherited a very lackluster situation. He was unable to to set the weakened club on the right path and was stuck dealing with inexperienced and injured players at nearly every position. Now only time will tell if the Frenchman’s fortunes will turn and whether he can bounce back in the face of heightened adversity.