Thierry Henry at Monaco – a series of disasters that was finally put to an end

Right from taking charge at Monaco in 19th place in October to being caught calling the opposition left back’s grandmother ‘a whore’ last week, Thierry Henry’s time at Monaco seemed doomed to fail from the start.

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Henry leapt in at the deep end of management, wildly thrashing about, which only temporarily delayed his demise.

Whilst he received plaudits for his ambition of taking over a side in need of serious transformation, the plaudits mostly ended there.

When Henry joined, worries understandably circulated around his tactical prowess. The appointment of not just a club legend, but a legend of the game made most think motivation and man management would be one of his easier tasks.

Instead, his ego and lack of experience proved to be a calamitous combination with a team in desperate need of reassurance and confidence building, and betbrain still lists them as a favourite for relegation.

Henry’s management style from the outset was seemingly plagued by the inability to understand that his players were not of the same quality as he or his former teammates.

The class and composure usually associated with the Arsenal great rapidly made way to agitation and irritation on the touchline, and the novelty of his stylish fashion sense rapidly wore off.

Eyebrows were raised when Henry accused his players of ‘unintentionally refusing to play’ after a 3-0 loss to Lyon. When asked to expand, he gloomily accused his players of lacking desire.

It’s clear that this despairing attitude translated onto the pitch during a tumultuous 105 days in charge.

He outlined his defensive philosophy before his managerial debut, outlining a vision of a full team press.

Eight formations later, with a mixture of three, four and five at the back, he seemed no closer to finding out his best strategy.

This constant upheaval created confusion amongst the squad who were unable to find any settled rhythm in their largely inept and error-strewn performances.

Henry’s plans were radical and their implementation reckless as the pressure seemed to engulf him. His tenure was characterised by impulse decisions fuelled by emotion, rather than taking a step back and assessing the situation.

This was highlighted by his decision to give the captain’s armband to 21 year-old Youri Tielemans, ousting experienced veteran Kamil Glik.

Henry managed to cause instant rifts in the dressing room, showing favouritism to a player he had worked with previously over an experienced and respected stalwart of the club.

This instant turn to the youth team in order to make a point to his senior squad would go on to be stretched to extreme lengths just before his dismissal.

Hours before the confirmation of the sack, Henry banished ‘too many to name’ individuals from the first team in a cull against players he reckoned were ‘only thinking about their own futures’ in a final exasperated fit of fury.

Henry ended a press conference before their game against Borussia Dortmund in December by humiliating young defender Benoit Badiashile after he forgot to tuck in his chair. At the time he was applauded by many for supposedly installing values of class and respect to the youngster. However it seemed an unnecessary and trivial incident from which to demonise a young player lacking in confidence.

The incident drew similarities to the start of his punditry career for Sky, where he launched into a tirade about respect concerning Javier Hernandez’s seemingly innocuous decision to celebrate with the fans. The bizarre focus on an utterly inconsequential moment of the game, drew immediate reaction from viewers, and was the start of a reasonably successful career. As Henry has no doubt learned, and as his former colleague Gary Neville could have told him, management requires more than a brash and bold personality.

Sources confirm that a host of Monaco players were complaining about the manner in which they were treated by Henry, with reports of him regularly making examples of players in training as he did with Badiashile.

This does not come as much of a surprise considering his negative body language on the sideline, reflecting a complete inability to hide his frustration at his side’s failings.

What does come as a surprise however is how a relatively young manager, who is still looked upon with adoration in England, managed to fail so spectacularly at relating to his players.

Suffering the ignominy of being suspended before being sacked was a fitting finish to a disastrous experiment, which ended with a enraged meltdown at his senior squad more akin to a child’s tantrum over a video game than the response of a professional football manager.

None of those who witnessed him play would doubt his footballing ability, but where Thierry Henry’s managerial future lies, if indeed he has one, will be very much dictated by the Frenchman’s ability for introspection.

Author Details

Felix Tasker

Freelance football journalist - @boxtoboxfootbal and @bpfootball

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