From Ligue 1 champions in 2016/2017 to relegation fears becoming rational thinking in just the space of a few years, being an AS Monaco fan has sure been a rollercoaster ride – this season more so than any.
The team from the notoriously expensive region of France, Monaco, started the season in a position that has become familiar, following their promotion from Ligue 2 in 2013 – group stage Champions League football confirmed thanks to a second place finish in the league in the season prior and challenging perennial champions and financial powerhouses, Paris Saint-Germain, for the league title – or so they thought.
The former champions however have been made to pay for mistakes seemingly at board level, and plenty of them on the pitch by both players and the management alike. The French side underperformed both domestically and in Europe (failing to win a single Champions League group game) during the first few months of the season and took the decision in October to sack their manager, Leonardo Jardim, who had been at club since 2014.
They then turned to club and country legend, World Cup winner, Champions league winner and Invincible – Thierry Henry, to lift them out of the miserable position the club had found its self and with genuine fears that they could be playing second division football next season.
However, the former Belgian assistant coach was unable to prevent the falling from grace Monaco were heading towards, coming into the job only to lose more games than he managed to win and fell out with his players along the way.
After just a few months at the helm at his boyhood club and them languishing in the relegation zone – Monaco decided to axe their second manager of the season. Henry was there for 3 months in which he oversaw the club for 20 games, winning just five, drawing four and losing the other 11.
This paved the way for a sudden turn of events in which the board re-hired Jardim after seemingly realising their mistake in prematurely sacking the Portuguese.
Despite a history as a selling club under Jardim, in which their title winning squad of 16/17 was essentially carved out come the summer by the likes of PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea to name but a few, the return of Jardim saw with it some talent joining Monaco.
Cesc Fabregas joined from Chelsea alongside Fode Toure from Lille and Naldo from Schalke 04 to bolster a new look Monaco hoping to put a disastrous 2018 behind them. Kicking on with a rejuvenated squad and manager who, knowing the club and with a few months away, could bring back the glory days with which the fans accredited to him and his wonderful squad of 16/17.
Since their semi-final cup exit at the end of January on penalties against Guingamp, Jardim has managed to turn around Monaco’s fortunes and go through February unbeaten, this run including three wins a 2-2 draw with 10-men. Some backbone and fight being shown by the player’s culminated with a 2-0 win over third place and round-of-16 Champions League flyers Lyon over the last weekend.
The club now, at the time of publishing, see themselves lifted out of the relegation zone that Henry had steered the ship towards, sitting in 16th position and beginning to look ahead as opposed to over their shoulders.
Whilst the rest of this season will be a rebuild job in order to secure their Ligue 1 status; it seems that the management at the helm of Monaco have been making the correct decisions since the turn of the year and the perhaps soon we can see the French club challenging PSG for league title and giving a bit more depth and credibility to the league.
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