What went wrong for Leonardo Jardim at Monaco? A look back over his time with the club
The big story of the day is that young Portuguese manager Leonardo Jardim is set to be sacked as manager of Ligue 1 outfit Monaco after 4 years at the club.
Having arrived with an already budding reputation, Jardim oversaw some extraordinary success at Monaco, particularly in his third season at the club where, with a youthful squad full of flair and attacking impotus, he managed to beat big-spenders PSG to the Ligue 1 title, finishing on an incredible 95 points, with a huge 105 goals scored, in just 38 league games. Masterminded by Jardim's attacking style, players such as Bernardo Silva, Mbappé, Thomas Lemar and Radamel Falcao flourished in his Monaco side, with attacking fullbacks Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibe making Monaco even more of a threat going forwards, and Jardim deservedly won the Ligue 1 manager of the year award.
What's perhaps even more impressive is that, in that same campaign, Jardim also oversaw Monaco reaching the semi-final of the Champions League, finishing first in their Champions League group despite being the pot 4 side, finishing above Tottenham, Bayer Leverkusen and CSKA Moscow, before then going on to beat eventual English Premier League champions Manchester City and German giants Borussia Dortmund in the round of sixteen and the quarter finals respectively to reach the last four. That's where their dream run would end though, with Monaco losing 4-1 to Serie A serial winners Juventus.
Jardim and his side's efforts did not go unnoticed. Having performed so admirably on both the European stage and domestically - where they reached the final of the League Cup and semi-final of the French Cup in addition to winning the Ligue 1 title - Monaco's talented side was invaded. With the likes of Bernardo Silva and Benjamin Mendy moving to Manchester City, and the attacking duo of Germain and Mbappé joining league rivals Marseille and PSG, Monaco's previously highly exciting side was pretty much dismantled in just a single summer.
Jardim still managed to make Monaco competitive though; despite a fairly turbulent summer, he helped lead Monaco to 2nd in the league, finishing only behind a heavily invested PSG side, and the final of the League Cup for a second year in a row.
However, losing their star players hit Monaco hardest on the continental stage, where they finished last in a less than menacing Champions League group despite being the seeded side, finishing behind Besiktas, Porto and RB Leipzig, meaning that they were out of all European competitions before Christmas.
Why has this season gone so horribly wrong?
And while last season was perhaps slightly underwhelming, particularly after the success of the year before, this season far, far worse.
With Monaco perhaps in need of some investment over the summer to replace some of their star players of two years ago that they so desperately missed, things didn't go as many would expect.
Bar Aleksandr Golovin, who arrived from CSKA Moscow after a terrific World Cup, the signings were far from inspiring. With the likes of Nacer Chadli arriving from recently-relegated West Bromwich Albion and becoming something of a regular for the side so far this season, the deterioration in quality at the Ligue 1 club was perhaps clear to see. The likes of Pelé and Tiago Ribeiro also arrived from Rio Ave and Porto respectively, good prospects that continued the trend of signing young Jorge Mendes players, but far from the quality previously at the club.
And with those less than impressive signings came the sale of three more top-quality players. Former Rio Ave man Fabinho - who fellow former Rio Ave defensive midfielder Pele was brought in to replace - was sold to Liverpool after becoming a key member of Jardim’s Monaco side, while Portugal’s third-highest appearance maker in history in Joao Moutinho was sold to Wolverhampton Wanderers for a measly £5million. The third sale, perhaps the most damaging, was the departure of Thomas Lemar to Atletico Madrid. Three huge talents that had become crucial members of the Monaco team, gone and unsuitably replaced.
With that in mind, Monaco’s troubles are not too difficult to understand, and Jardim is likely largely not to blame. His difficulties as Monaco manager only furthered when one of his other star players from the season before in Rony Lopes was injured early on in the campaign, meaning that his side became even weaker almost as soon as the season began.
While the extent of Monaco’s on-field problems has perhaps exceeded expectations, they were always likely to struggle considering how much their squad has deteriorated in such a short space of time, and while their form suggests that Jardim’s sacking is justified, after the success - and financial windfall - that Jardim has helped deliver to the club, a little more patience and gratitude could be expected.