With two heavy defeats already and uncertainty surrounding the future of Radamel Falcao, it has been an awful start to the season for AS Monaco as they prepare to face Nîmes Olympique on Sunday.
AS Monaco - Nîmes Olympique
The prinipality club have stated their ambition of a podium finish this season after ending the last campaign just above the relegation places, but Leonardo Jardim's side come into Week 3 still without a point on the board after chastening 3-0 losses at home to Olympique Lyonnais and away to FC Metz. So just what is going wrong now at the Stade Louis II?
One of the biggest problems Monaco have suffered in their first two matches have been sendings-off of players in the first half. Against Lyon, Cesc Fàbregas was dismissed after only half an hour and against Metz last weekend Rubén Águilar walked in the 34th minute. After finishing bottom of the Fair Play table last season, there is clearly still work to be done in that regard.
Watch: Monaco mauled by Metz
Beyond that, new signings have been made but the constant turnover of players that has become a feature of life at the club in recent years shows no sign of abating. After signing Águilar and goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte from Montpellier Hérault SC, and making Gelson Martins' loan move from Atlético Madrid a permanent deal, Monaco have accelerated their squad building this month.
Ben Yedder targets success
Wissam Ben Yedder has returned to Ligue 1 from Sevilla in a €40 million deal and Nigerian winger Henry Onyekuru has joined from Everton. Both made their debuts at Metz last weekend, but Algerian forward Islam Slimani has signed on loan from Leicester City since then. Meanwhile, further signings are imminent, with the club particularly keen to strengthen in midfield.
"It was hard to leave Seville. It was quite emotional as a lot of things happened in Spain for me," said Ben Yedder at his official unveiling this week. "But I spoke a lot with the vice-president, Mr Petrov, about the project. Monaco want to compete at the top of the table. Monaco is my choice. Lots of clubs were interested in me but I chose Monaco and I am satisfied with that."
Of the team's current situation, Ben Yedder was confident the team could turn things around, saying: "It is a big club, even if they are in a difficult situation at the moment. We are going to try to prove that what happened last season was just an anomaly. We will do everything to get back into Europe."
Jardim 'doing a good job'
It remains to be seen if Ben Yedder will partner Falcao in attack this season, with vice president Oleg Petrov stating that he wants the Colombian to stay amid reports that a move to Galatasaray is on the cards. Scorer of 54 Ligue 1 Conforama goals in the last three seasons, Falcao has not yet featured for Monaco this season. Whatever happens now, Jardim desperately needs a win on Sunday, even if Petrov played down suggestions that another defeat could make the coach's position untenable.
"I don't think he has any responsibility for current results. I think Leonardo Jardim is doing his best. It is true that the coach is very exposed at the moment and he is the first one the fans turn on if results are bad, but the coaching staff are doing a good job," insisted the Russian.
Watch: Crocodiles beaten by Nice
"Our squad is not complete at the moment, so we are working to remedy that. We are looking for top quality players. We have made signings who have arrived late, so they are still getting to know one another. That explains the two negative results, but I am sure things will get better."
In the meantime, Águilar and Fàbregas are both suspended for the visit of a Nîmes side who have also lost their opening two games. A 3-0 defeat away to the champions Paris Saint-Germain on the opening weekend was followed by a 2-1 loss at home to OGC Nice last time out, a game Bernard Blaquart's team finished with nine men.
Pablo Martinez and Anthony Briançon were sent off late on and so are banned here, but the Crocodiles have been boosted this week by the arrival of two new signings. Lucas Deaux and Lamine Fomba have joined from EA Guingamp and AJ Auxerre respectively, reinforcing a midfield that has lost several key players in the summer.
Monaco: Lecomte; Henrichs, Glik (c), Jemerson, Ballo-Touré; Martins, Golovin, Silva, Onyekuru; Ben Yedder, Baldé
Nîmes: Bernardoni; Alakouch, Landre, Miguel, Paquiez; Fomba, Deaux, Sarr; Ferhat, Ripart (c), Duljevic