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Champions League ‘dream’ awaits Monaco coach Henry

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Monaco coach Thierry Henry hopes a trip to Belgium can spark a resurgence in the club’s fortunes © BELGA/AFP / BRUNO FAHY

BRUGES, Belgium, Oct 24 – Newly-appointed Monaco coach Thierry Henry has no intention of sulking over the Ligue 1 side’s poor domestic form as he seeks a “dream” Champions League date with Club Brugge Wednesday.

Former Arsenal and France star Henry kicked off his fledgling coaching career with a 2-1 away defeat to Strasbourg at the weekend, a result that left the struggling Principality side second from bottom of the French league table.

Monaco fans will be hoping it won’t be more of the same on Wednesday, when they face the Belgians away looking to claim their first points of the group stages.

Henry, a Champions League winner with Barcelona in 2009, believes it could be just the tonic to get Monaco, beaten finalists in 2004, back on track.

“People might ask if this match is coming at the right time for me, given our position in the table,” Henry said in Bruges on Tuesday.

“But they say the same about the teams leading the table, they say the Champions League can’t be won by teams fighting for the (domestic) title.

“I don’t see it like that. The Champions League is a dream. You want to play in it, you want to be part of it and it might just be what we need to give us back some confidence.”

After succeeding Leonardo Jardim at the Monaco helm, in just one week Henry has “introduced a degree of tactical flexibility” into Monaco’s game, said midfielder Youri Tielemans, who knows Henry well from his previous role as an assistant to Roberto Martinez in the Belgium set-up.

Henry expects a tough game at the Jan Breydelstadion against a team with “quality” players who “know how to fight till the end”.

But the 41-year-old Frenchman has insisted on instilling a degree of optimism and is adopting a philosophical approach as he looks for the performance that will help Monaco believe again.

“We’re not in a situation where we can laugh about things, but we have to combine respect, humility, hard work and joy,” said Henry.

“It’s always easier to work when there’s joy.”

Henry’s first game in charge as coach was marked by a 17th-minute opener for Strasbourg and a sending-off which left Monaco, now 24 points adrift of leaders Paris Saint-Germain, fighting for the scraps.

But the World Cup winner insists his Champions League debut as coach cannot come quick enough.

“It’s good for us to have this match right after Strasbourg, so we can try and regain some confidence and not think too much about certain things.

“We’re looking for a win or a really good performance as quickly as possible.”

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