Henry opens new Monaco era in Strasbourg
By I. Holyman
Thierry Henry will take charge of AS Monaco for the first time on Saturday as the former Arsenal and Barcelona forward begins his coaching career in Strasbourg.
RC Strasbourg-Alsace - AS Monaco
The 41-year-old was presented to the media on Wednesday, but Leonardo Jardim's successor had already been hard at work since Monday as he tries to find the right formula to turn around the fortunes of last season's Ligue 1 Conforama runners-up.
Without a win since the opening day of the season and having picked up just three points since, the principality outfit head to Alsace third-from-bottom of the table. Preparations were hampered by a number of players on international duty, notably captain Radamel Falcao, who only returned from the USA on Thursday morning.
"He's our captain, our leader, the goalscorer," said Henry of his Colombia international forward. "I got the chance to speak to him before training, because he came back late. He's scored the few goals of the team this season, Youri [Tielemans] has scored some too. Falcao is the charismatic leader, everyone knows what he represents. We're happy to have him back."
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While Falcao, who has scored four goals in eight league outings including the Week 9 home loss to Stade Rennais FC, is available, a thigh injury means first-choice goalkeeper Danijel Subasic is sidelined and a red card picked up in that defeat means Andrea Raggi starts a five-game ban.
"We have to get back our confidence and security," said Henry, whose side have kept just one clean sheet all season and have lost their last four competitive outings.
"We have to find some momentum. We have to be courageous with the ball and refind the joy of playing again. I have played at La Meinau and it's not easy there."
Despite Henry's personal experience of Strasbourg's intimidating home, Monaco have enjoyed recent trips there, winning their last three and they are unbeaten in their last five.
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While history is on their side, current form is not. Thierry Laurey's men have lost just once in five league games, and in Lebo Mothiba, they have a striker in form.
The South Africa international, a summer arrival from Lille, has struck four goals in the colours of his new club, including three in his last two league games.
His brace at Angers before the international break looked like it would be enough to secure his team all three points, but a late rally by the hosts meant Strasbourg had to settle for a draw.
Now, Laurey and his men are out to ruin Henry's big day.
"It's good for French football that someone of his quality and who has that knowledge of football comes to coach a French club rather than a foreign one," Laurey explained. "But we're playing Monaco, not against Henry."
Strasbourg: Sels – Lala, Koné, Mitrovic, Martinez, Carole – Sissoko, Corgnet, Thomasson – Mothiba, Da Costa
Monaco : Sy – Sidibé, Touré, Glik, Henrichs – Aholou, Golovine, Tielemans – Grandsir, Jovetic, Chadli