By Julien Pretot
PARIS (Reuters) – With things going from bad to worse for Monaco this season, the club knew they had to take drastic action if they wanted to preserve their Ligue 1 status next season.
Hence three months after sacking Leonardo Jardim following a string of poor results that left them third from bottom in the league, and appointing Thierry Henry amid much fanfare, the principality club have dumped the Frenchman and re-hired the Portuguese.
Jardim now appears to be the only man able to save the club.
Henry never managed to turn the situation around, leaving the team second from bottom and three points from safety.
With caretaker Franck Passi in charge on Saturday, Monaco lost 2-0 at fellow strugglers Dijon, showing Jardim the extent of the task he has ahead of him.
“I’m not one to turn my back on those who helped me five years ago when they had me come from Sporting,” said Jardim.
“I think that with some small changes, and work, we can save the club.”
Monaco have not won in their last six Ligue 1 games, losing four times and drawing two. In fact they have secured only two wins from their last 21 league matches.
Saturday’s defeat took a huge emotional toll on several players, with 17-year-old Benoit Badiashile bursting into tears at the final whistle.
The fall from grace has been swift and painful for Monaco, who won the 2016-2017 league title before finishing second last season.
Despite regularly selling their best young players — such as Kylian Mbappe to PSG, Bernardo Silva to Manchester City and Thomas Lemar to Athletico Madrid over the past two years — Monaco had hovered near the top.
That was until this season.
Youri Tielemans has been unable to fill the gap left by Fabinho, who left for Liverpool during the close season, leaving the defence exposed. Cesc Fabregas has also failed to make an impact since joining from Chelsea earlier this month.
As a result, Monaco have conceded 38 goals in the league, 16 more than last season after 22 games.
Up front, Radamel Falcao, Rony Lopes, Stevan Jovetic have scored 10 goals so far between them, having managed a total of 41 last season.
Add in the fact that the side have picked up six red cards this season — more than any other team, with new signing Naldo receiving two in the three games he has played — things are looking rather bleak on all fronts.
“The squad is very disturbed with the changes of coaches,” said Djibril Sidibe.
“We are going to recuperate and wait for what the coach has to say.”
One silver lining remains, however, as Monaco could end the season with a trophy as they travel to En Avant Guingamp for a League Cup semi-final on Tuesday.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)