Spare a thought for Thierry Henry this Christmas. The team he coaches, Monaco, closed out 2018 with a 2-0 loss at home to the last-placed team in Ligue 1, Guingamp. It was the first time Monaco had ever lost a home game to Guingamp, and the result ensured Henry’s side would head into 2019 in 19th place in the league: on course for automatic relegation if results don’t turn around in the new year.
Since Henry took over as head coach in October, Monaco has won just three out of 14 games in all competitions. The team is out of UEFA Champions League, and in no position to think about European competition next season: relegation is the primary concern right now.
After the Guingamp game, as reported by L’Equipe, Henry did not try to sugarcoat the situation:
It happened to me in my life. It will happen to me again. You have to work and work. The results are not there. There are still a lot of things to be done.
“I will not have a good holiday,” he told reporters, who might reasonably have guessed Henry wasn’t going to have the most restful Christmas of his career.
A lot of things to be done both on and off the field. Results aside, Monaco has a long injury list, not-unfounded questions to answer about Technical Director Michael Emenalo’s ability to find answers to his team’s problems in the transfer market, and an owner - Dmitry Rybolovlev whose business dealings inside and outside the football world are under scrutiny.
Henry meanwhile must prepare a demoralized squad for a crowded January schedule that starts with two cup games before returning to Ligue 1 action with a three-game week initiated by a challenging trip to Marseille. He will have the help of recently-appointed assistant coach Franck Passi, whose arrival at Monaco did not go unnoticed since he is perhaps best known these days as a sort of specialist caretaker manager.
Henry has a lot to think about before Monaco’s season starts up again on January 6.