As Thierry Henry holds talks with Bordeaux over their vacant coach’s role, we take a look at the challenges he would face at the Ligue 1 club.
Bordeaux are looking for a new boss having suspended Gus Poyet, and Sky sourcesunderstand the position is one of a number being considered by the former Arsenal and Barcelona forward.
Here’s a look at what he would be walking into at the Stade Matmut Atlantique – and the challenges he would face there…
Climbing up the table
Bordeaux are historically one of France’s most successful clubs. They won the most recent of their six Ligue 1 titles in 2008/09, but have not come anywhere close to those heights since. In fact, in the last nine seasons, they have not finished higher than fifth. There was a Coupe de France win in 2012/13, but otherwise there has been little to get excited about.
Initially, Henry’s task would simply be to turn Bordeaux’s form around after consecutive defeats to Strasbourg and Toulouse, but in the longer term, the challenge would be to take them back towards the top of the division. There is no expectation that they will rival Paris Saint-Germain or Monaco immediately, but after three sixth-placed finishes in four years, could they aim higher under Henry?
Lifting the mood
One of Henry’s first challenges would be to lift morale among his players and alleviate the sense of crisis engulfing the club. Poyet’s suspension came after a furious dispute with Bordeaux’s owners over the club’s transfer activity, with L’Equipe reporting that several members of the squad initially refused to train when informed of the Uruguayan’s suspension last week.
Those players were reportedly talked around by the club’s sporting director, Stephane Martin, but the back-to-back losses to Strasbourg and Toulouse suggest issues remain. It would be down to Henry to put the problems behind them and get the dressing room pulling in the same direction.
On the pitch, their new coach’s task will be made tougher by the departure of Bordeaux’s best player last season. Brazilian winger Malcom brought star quality to the side, top scoring with 12 Ligue 1 goals in 35 appearances in 2017/18, but last month he left for Barcelona.
It is a considerable loss. As well as scoring more goals than any of his team-mates last year, Malcom had the most shots, created the most chances and completed the most dribbles. Bordeaux are yet to replace him, but Henry would hope at least part of the £36.5m fee they received will be made available for spending in the final week of the European transfer window.
Malcom was not the only notable departure this summer. In fact, the exit that most irked Poyet was that of striker Gaetan Laborde, who was sold to Montpellier without the Uruguayan’s consent. “What the club have done with Gaetan Laborde is a disgrace,” Poyet said.
Laborde was not a regular starter last season and scored just three Ligue 1 goals in total, but his departure has compounded Bordeaux’s long-standing issues up front. Not since Cheick Diabate in the 2015/16 season has a Bordeaux striker reached double figures for league goals in a single season. Could Henry be the man to get them firing again?
Europa League run?
One way for Henry to build optimism around the club would be to embark on a Europa League run. Bordeaux may have struggled domestically this season but they have progressed smoothly in Europa League qualifying, beating Latvian side Ventspils and Ukrainian outfit Mariupol to set up a play-off meeting with Belgian side Gent.
Win that, and Bordeaux will take their place in the group stages. Bordeaux have not got that far since the 2015/16 campaign, and while the extra fixtures would stretch their resources, it would also present Henry with an opportunity to make his mark on the European stage.