French great Henry set for coaching debut with Monaco

Monaco coach Thierry Henry puts his players through their paces at the club’s training facilities in La Turbie. (AFP)
Updated 18 October 2018
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French great Henry set for coaching debut with Monaco

  • The French great, who started his glittering playing career at Monaco, takes over a side sitting 18th in the top flight
  • The 41-year-old Henry helped France win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship

PARIS: Thierry Henry’s managerial career could hardly be starting under more challenging circumstances, with struggling Monaco leaking goals, hit by injuries and low on confidence.
The French great, who started his glittering playing career at Monaco, takes over a side sitting 18th in the top flight.
Monaco has won just once in 11 games — including two defeats in the Champions League — and the poor run cost Leonardo Jardim his job .
“The reality is morale isn’t at its highest,” Henry said ahead of the trip to Strasbourg on Saturday.
Strasbourg is ninth and the Alsace-based side is hard to beat at home.
Henry will be without No. 1 goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and No. 2 Diego Benaglio — who are nursing thigh injuries and sat out Thursday’s training session.
Monaco also has two defenders suspended — Jemerson and Andrea Raggi — and another out injured, while Henry must decide whether to select veteran striker Radamel Falcao, who is returning late after playing for Colombia on Wednesday night.
Jardim often rested Falcao after internationals, but Henry may have no choice but to pick his leading scorer.
Monaco won the domestic title and reached the Champions League semifinals in 2017, scoring more than 150 goals. However, the side Henry has inherited is a far cry from that swashbuckling team.
The 41-year-old Henry helped France win the 1998 World Cup and the 2000 European Championship. He is the leading goal-scorer for his country and for Premier League Arsenal, and thrilled fans with his speed and skill.
He exudes confidence but, given Monaco’s precarious situation, he has little time to talk about his vision for the club.
“I prefer to think only of the present. What the team needs right now might not be what the team needs in two or three months. When things are calmer perhaps we can talk about those things,” Henry said.
“It’s not going to be easy to get the team to understand how I want to play. It’s always better to have the team at the start of the season, so they know the ideas.”
Henry was previously Belgium’s No. 2. During the 2018 World Cup in Russia, he was praised by coach Roberto Martinez for his work helping fine-tune the squad’s forwards.
His focus now is to shore up a Monaco defense which has leaked 13 goals in nine league games.
“We must become a team which doesn’t let in goals,” Henry said. “What the team needs now is security and balance.”
Because it’s his first job in charge, Henry will be relying on his backroom staff more than other coaches might.
“It’s important to have staff members who can say ‘no’ to you, challenge you on certain points, and perhaps have a different vision of things,” he said. “The most important thing is not having people around me who just say ‘yes, yes.’“
Monaco has a huge scouting network and a reputation for developing players before selling them on for massive profits. The best example is 19-year-old France forward Kylian Mbappe, who shone in 2017 before joining Paris Saint-Germain in a deal worth €180 million ($207 million).
Henry knows how it feels to be a young star. He made his Monaco debut at the age of 17 in 1994 and four years later he was a World Cup winner — just like Mbappe is now .
“We live in a (different) generation,” Henry said. “When I grew up, you needed to make the first step to the senior players, the first step to the coach. Now, you have to go to the new generation, understand their codes. The way they (arrive) sometimes to training, the way they walk, the little lean they have ... my coach would have sent me straight back to the dressing room (for that).
“Sometimes you have to laugh, sometimes you have to be hard and sometimes you have to let them be. The trick is when. If you stay stuck on the way you grew up, then there will be a fracture, that’s for sure. You have to adapt and be patient.”


Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

Updated 18 January 2019
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Maria Sharapova looks back to her best as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal show no signs of slowing down

  • Sharapova dumps out defending champion Caroline Wozniacki.
  • Rafa and Roger brush aside young guns in straight sets victories.

LONDON: It is coming up to the end of the first week of the Australian Open, so we thought we would take a look and see how some of the big names fared on day five of the year’s first Grand Slam.

MARIA SHARAPOVA

Maria Sharapova warned she is in the sort of form to win the Australian Open after she dumped Carolina Wozniacki out with an impressive 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win. It was the Russian’s best win since her return from a drugs ban and she looked like a winner-in-waiting.
“I thought the level was quite high. I knew I’d get a tough match — she (Wozniacki) is the defending champion,” the five-time Slam champion said.
“I haven’t played many matches in the last year against top players so it was really rewarding to win that last set. These are the kinds of matches I train for.”



ROGER FEDERER

Ageless Roger Federer marked his 100th Rod Laver Arena match Friday by storming past Taylor Fritz, then looked forward to a “high quality” last-16 clash against another young gun, Stefanos Tsitsipas.
The 20-time Grand Slam champion continued his quest for a record seventh Australian Open title with a 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 third-round demolition of 21-year-old American Fritz in just 88 minutes of flawless tennis.
Next up is 14th seed Tsitsipas. And the 37-year-old Federer is looking forward to taking on the fiery young Greek, who is 17 years his junior.
Federer played him in the recent mixed teams Hopman Cup, winning a closely contested singles 7-6 (7/5), 7-6 (7/4), and said he was impressed.
“I think he played really well there. I actually did too. I thought it was really high quality tennis,” Federer said.
“This is obviously a different type of match, it being best of five, it being a fourth round of a Slam.”



RAFAEL NADAL

Rafael Nadal declared “everything is a step forward” after brutally brushing aside Alex de Minaur at the Australian Open Friday in just the Spaniard’s third match since the US Open.
The world No. 2 was in ominous form as he continued his quest for an 18th Grand Slam by punishing the Australian teenager in a third-round tennis masterclass 6-1, 6-2, 6-4.
“In general terms, everything is a step forward. So that’s positive news for me,” said the man who won the Aussie Open in 2009.
“I’m very happy for the victory against someone who had won seven matches in a row, winning a tournament.”
On his fitness Nadal added: “Probably 10 years ago it would have been difficult not playing much tennis in the build-up but now I have been in this situation many times with the injuries I have had.
“I have to deal with the ups and downs of my body but I try to enjoy any moment on the court.”



MARIN CILIC

The former US Open champions was made to work for his place in the last 16 as he struggled to beat Fernando Verdasco 4-6, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6, 6-3. Verdasco showed glimpses of the form that once made him a top-10 player and had a match point, one he frittered away with a double fault.
I was just slightly luckier in those crucial moments,” the sixth-seeded Cilic said.
“(It is) unbelievable. Emotions were up and down,” Cilic said.
“When I was down two sets to none, it was a big hill to climb.”
It’s the seventh time in Cilic’s career that he has emerged to win a match after dropping the opening two sets.



ANGELIQUE KERBER

Second seed Kerber received a gift ride into the Australian Open fourth round for her 31st birthday when she overpowered local wildcard Kimberly Birrell 6-1, 6-0.
The Wimbledon champion swept world No. 240 Birrell aside in just 58 minutes to set up a last-16 clash with unseeded American Danielle Collins.
Kerber, a winner at Melbourne Park in 2016, said she was used to celebrating her birthday on the road at the season-opening Grand Slam.
“I think it’s the 12th time in a row,” she said. “I’m getting older but I have the best time here and I’ll never forget my birthdays here in Australia.”
Kerber reached the semifinals last year but lost to Simona Halep in a tight three-setter.