'Your granny is a w***e!' Thierry Henry's Monaco nightmare going from bad to worse

Thierry Henry Monaco 2018-19

“Your grandmother’s a whore!”

There was no doubt about it: that was the insult that Monaco head coach Thierry Henry aimed towards Strasbourg wing-back Kenny Lala, caught clearly in Canal+’s pitchside microphones and transmitted to the world.

The incident that sparked his outrage was an innocuous one, Lala wasting time as hundreds of other professionals all over Europe would do. Henry’s ire and frustration, though, came after only 43 minutes of a game in which his side trailed 2-1.

It was a moment that emphasised the pressure that the Arsenal and France legend is feeling at Stade Louis II, where his side find themselves entrenched in an unexpected relegation battle. Moreover, it is one they are losing.

Reinforced by a handful of new signings and buoyed by a positive showing against Marseille six days earlier, Saturday was billed as the evening when Monaco would get their campaign back on track. Instead, it proved a rank humiliation as they were beaten 5-1 at home, where they have not won a single league match all season.

Little wonder, then, Henry allowed his emotions to get the better of him. 

“It was a reaction, I regret it,” he admitted after the game. “I’m only human. There was a sequence of many things…

"You don’t see everything that happens on the touchline. There was a moment when the fourth official told the referee four times that there was a foul but he was ignored. It’s tiring.” 

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Since taking over in the principality, fortune has deserted the 41-year-old.

Prior to his Saturday night outburst, he had seen experienced centre-back Naldo softly sent off after only seven minutes. Later, Rony Lopes saw strong penalty claims waved away, with Henry told that VAR was not functional at the moment of the incident. The score was 2-1 at that point and Monaco still had a fighting chance. 

And, of course, there have been the outrageous injury problems that have denied him the services of more than 10 players for the entire duration of his tenure so far.

This was never likely to be a quick fix, yet the excuses are beginning to run out: even in such trying circumstances, the results should not be this poor.

Nineteen matches in charge have yielded only four victories, three of which have been achieved by a 1-0 margin and two of which came against opponents from lower leagues.

His chronic selection problems have eased marginally, with Lopes, Monaco’s best player throughout 2018, available again, and a handful of new acquisitions designed to reinvigorate the team. 

The whole campaign has been compromised by a shambolic summer transfer period but, in January, they have been willing to put their faith in Henry's choices, most notably Cesc Fabregas, whose arrival from Chelsea is considered quite the coup for such a struggling side.

However, after a promising debut in the 1-1 draw with Marseille, the World Cup winner was as culpable as any for the Strasbourg shambles, a game which fellow new boy Fode Ballo-Toure also started.

A striker will arrive – most likely Chelsea's Michy Batshuayi – but a whole raft of players are set to depart, meaning a remarkable facelift at this point of the campaign.

Thierry Henry Monaco Ligue 1

Henry’s signings have also been driven by the fact he wishes his team to play with three centre-backs, yet on the occasions he has used the system, it has failed to function smoothly. 

“We tried it against Lyon but it didn’t work,” he admitted, considering a 3-0 loss before Christmas. “But we also tried it in Bruges and it had been better.”

Better it might have been, but that is still a relative term. Monaco could – and perhaps should – have lost that fixture in Belgium, where they drew 1-1.

Since then, it has proven no more fruitful than any other system the team has tried this season.

To persist represents a risk for Henry, yet in basing his January transfers around the predication that this is the formation he will use, he has gone all in on it proving successful.

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He is acutely aware of the potential repercussions if things continue to go wrong and his room for manoeuvre has become as tight as the carpark that sits below that Stade Louis II pitch.

Barely three months into the job, his dream return to Monaco has degenerated into a nightmare.

If he can turn the situation around, he may just make a coach yet. If not, we could well see more embarrassing displays of foul-mouthed frustration.