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Analysis: AS Monaco making waves under Hutter’s expert tutelage

Adi Hutter deserves all the praise that comes his way for guiding AS Monaco to direct Champions League qualification by virtue of their second-place finish in Ligue 1.

Arriving last summer following the departure of Philippe Clement, who’s tenure ended following three straight losses and ASM only winning four of their last 14 matches, the experienced Austrian manager has come in and done an outstanding job.


Adversity overcome

Although he’s had his struggles, which included rumours of his removal from his post due to the team’s poor form going into 2024, and a disappointing Coupe de France exit vs. third division side Rouen, his campaign has largely been full of upside.

“I am very happy indeed! It was a difficult season coming to an end, with ups and downs, but we managed to meet our challenge,” reflected sporting director Thiago Scuro.

A content and delighted Hutter then gave his insights following the recent Montpellier victory, stating: “I first want to congratulate my team for the result and this victory tonight. I am really proud to be the coach of this wonderful club and I want to thank the president Dmitry Rybolovlev and Thiago Scuro, our general director, for our performances as well as all the employees of the club. I would like to make a special mention to all our fans who will follow us next season in the Champions League!”

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Adi Hutter: Everything you need to know about the AS Monaco manager
Adi Hutter built himself as an elite tactician at the highest level – @ AS Monaco

Vindicating the club for supporting him and placing their faith in him emphatically, there’s no doubting what an astute appointment he’s been, for he’s instilled his offensively geared philosophy and gotten the best out of the players at his disposal with his strong man-management skills.

Coaching experience comes to the fore

Tough to face off against with their front-footed approach and playing with plenty of character, there’s been much to admire about how Hutter’s stamped his mark on the team to ensure his players take responsibility and are accountable for their actions. “I like for my teams to play aggressive football in a good way, to be proactive, with a clear idea of how to play. This must go with the desire to have a conquering state of mind, to show character,” he explained on his arrival.

“I have to make everyone come together, all of these energies, towards the same objective. I also like to maintain a relationship with my players, to speak with them, because behind everyone there is a human being. So, I want to create this link, because in the end it’s the players who are on the pitch, not me. We must therefore do everything to ensure that they are all in the best condition.”

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He then added this on his relationship with Scuro: “We met in Salzburg and there was immediately good chemistry and a good relationship where we talked in particular about the coaching profession. We have the same ideas on the style and principle of play to instil.”

Getting the balance right of blending youth and experience while illustrating what a shrewd tactician he is, as he’s regularly tweaked his shape depending on the personnel available and the opposition, it’s been impressive how he’s quickly struck a formula for success and devised strategic solutions in his first season at the helm.

Adi Hutter @ AS Monaco

Indeed, his decision to opt for a back three in the recent triumph over Brest to combat their aerial threat and select four-at-the-back formations in classy wins over Montpellier, Metz and rivals OGC Nice, has given his team an edge while underlining his thorough analysis process before each encounter.

How he’s made some calculated substitutions to tilt matches in ASM’s favour, such as bringing on Eliesse Ben Seghir (as part of a triple change) to change the game in their crunch win over Strasbourg and introducing Maghnes Akliouche to inject some attacking spark to seal the deal vs. Rodez in the cup, has notably caught the eye.

Fostering a sense of togetherness in the dressing room, something his 15 plus years as a coach has been pivotal towards, and knowing when to make key selection calls like bringing in Radoslaw Majecki for the faltering Philipp Kohn, his managerial acumen has unquestionably risen to the fore.

“I like his human side, his proximity to the players. The exchange is constant with the team, and he is above all someone honest. He says what he thinks to the people he works with, whether it’s positive or negative. He also knows how to take responsibility for the media,” Thilo Kehrer, ASM’s German defender, insisted.

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Fine tuning still needed

Some areas Hutter knows need improvement are their home form, where they went winless from December 3 to April 7, and their defensive lapses that have cost them regularly and ensured they only have the seventh best defensive record in the league.

To touch back on the talk of his sacking, Hutter will want to avoid any big downturns in form in the future, as their mid-season slump, that saw them only obtain 15 points from 11 matches, brought plenty of heat on the Austrian. The Toulouse loss in February was a particularly low moment, for their mistakes at the back, wastefulness in the final third and inability to fight back arguably served as Hutter’s most difficult point in charge.

Lacking energy, consistency, efficiency in front of goal and tending to leave big spaces for teams to hit them on the counter at various times during the crusade, the 54-year-old is well aware there’s room for refinement. “I am open to criticism. It’s part of the game. I’ve been in the coaching profession for fifteen years. I haven’t always won. It’s part of football,” he reflected during their turbulent patch.

“I like being there, I like working with my players on a daily basis. I can understand the criticism. Believe me, not everyone is happy that we only took 33 points after 18 matches. We started very well during the first nine games, with 20 points, then it was less good. There are not only reasons for satisfaction.”

But all things considered, the positives have definitely outweighed the negatives especially given not all of ASM’s issues are purely his fault and Monaco have suffered many injuries to key players.

Considering the likes of Breel Embolo, Caio Henrique and Ben Seghir have missed large chunks of the campaign, plus Hutter lost Wilfried Singo (that he won), Ismail Jakobs and Krepin Diatta to the African Cup and Takumi Minamino to the Asian Cup, this punctuates how admirably he’s negotiated such setbacks.

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Having put some firm foundations in place, it’ll be fascinating what ASM can achieve next season under Hutter, both domestically and in the coveted Champions League.

Thiago Scuro and Adi Hutter @ AS Monaco

“We have had three periods during this season. We played fantastic football at the start, before having a more difficult period with injuries, the CAN and the Asian Cup. The Derby win in Nice was a key game and got us back on track. We then beat direct UCL competitors like Brest and Lille and achieved a total of ten away victories,” stated Hutter at the final pre-match press conference of the crusade.

“I immediately felt a lot of joy after the match in Montpellier. There was a fantastic atmosphere, a lot of joy on the pitch and in the locker room. I think we really deserve to finish second. Everyone is very happy to have brought the club back to the Champions League after six years of absence.”

Getting the best out of the squad

Proving key in furthering the development of gifted youngsters such as Akliouche, Ben Seghir and Kassoum Ouattara, while still getting a tune out of the older members of the squad like Wissam Ben Yedder, Takumi Minamino and Guillermo Maripan, these have been extra key features.

To shine the spotlight on Minamino, who worked with  Hutter previously at RB Salzburg, and it was a huge boost for the team how Hutter helped him find his groove again after a mediocre first season in Monaco. “The game played by Adi Hutter fits my style perfectly. When I play, I understand perfectly what the coach wants to do. Compared to last season, that changes a lot of things. Last summer, I also did a lot of individual preparation before starting again, which allowed me to start the season very well,” commented the Japanese international.

The form of midfield powerhouses Youssouf Fofana and Denis Zakaria and defensive dynamo Wilfried Singo have been instrumental too, with Hutter’s influence clear towards them operating at levels resembling their best. “I’ve discovered a new philosophy. I like this style of play, focusing entirely on the attack with a transitional game. I love the spaces. It suits my qualities. And this season, things have worked out well with the new coach and the new players. Everyone is dangerous and can be decisive,” Fofana expressed.

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Having played under Hutter twice in the past at Young Boys and Borussia Monchengladbach, it’s been fantastic to observe Zakaria rising to the occasion again upon being reunited with the Austrian coach. “Even before his arrival and I learned that he was going to become the coach of AS Monaco, I was already in contact with him. Knowing a coach that I had a good relationship with made it easier. This further strengthened my desire to join Monaco,” Zakaria gleamed.

“He is an excellent coach, as his career demonstrates. This is my third collaboration with him and it has always gone well. He knows how to manage players and communicate with them. I also really like his style of play. These are elements that I particularly like, and I’m probably not the only one.”

Knowing there’s more to come from star singing Folarin Balogun, which in combination with having the likes of Aleksandr Golovin, Caio Enrique and Breel Embolo back fully fit, bodes nicely for next campaign too that they can potentially scale even greater heights.

When quizzed on his favourite moment of the season, his answer made for great listening. “For me, the key moment was the return derby against Nice. It’s easy for me to have this memory in mind because it was my birthday that day, February 11. If we lost this match, we would have been seven points behind Nice and in fifth place. Qualifying for the Champions League then would have been very complex. So yes I think this is the most important victory for AS Monaco this season,” he remarked.

That accomplished display to triumph over rivals OGC Nice, which was ASM’s first Ligue 1 victory of 2024, was certainly a major milestone, with their performance at the Allianz Riviera massive in restoring some positivity to the Principality club following their poor run of results and devastating aforementioned cup loss.

On the horizon

With a crucial transfer window and pre-season to come, expectations will be high heading into the 2024/2025 crusade, where Hutter will back himself to rise to the challenge – just like he’s done in his successful debut season with Monaco.

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Exciting times most definitely await Hutter’s multifaceted Monaco.