PARIS (AFP) – Leonardo Jardim finds himself again facing mounting scrutiny in his second spell as Monaco boss after a humbling home defeat by Lille in the French League Cup in midweek.
Jardim, the mastermind of Monaco’s run to the 2017 Ligue 1 title, heads into the final game of the year with his side six points adrift of the Champions League places.
Monaco host Lille, who occupy that third European spot, for the second time in five days this weekend having suffered a deflating 3-0 loss at the Stade Louis II on Tuesday.
“We weren’t up to scratch. We expect more of ourselves and we must give a response on Saturday,” Jardim said following his side’s last 16 exit.
The Portuguese landed himself in the spotlight in September as Monaco picked up just three points from their opening six games despite a summer outlay of EUR135 million.
Five wins in six helped douse the flames but this week’s abject display against Lille stoked fresh concerns about the direction the club is heading.
“Do I feel in danger? Like all coaches. We’ve progressed since (September). It’s not up to me to make an assessment,” Jardim told reporters on Thursday.
The 45-year-old was reappointed in January, just three months after he was sacked and replaced by Thierry Henry.
“The boss asked me to come back. I’m serving the club. We’re building a new team,” said Jardim.
“Being on the frontline is the life of a coach. I prefer the criticism is directed at me rather than my players. Let them do their job and show their qualities. I prefer to be the target.”
Reports in France suggest another limp display at home, where a smattering of Monaco fans voiced their displeasure midweek, could place Jardim’s future in serious jeopardy.
One bonus for Monaco, who in contrast could begin 2020 just three points back of third place with victory tonight, will be the absence of Lille striker Victor Osimhen.
The Nigerian will not be risked after complaining of pain and dizziness while celebrating his first-half goal in the cup encounter.
League leaders Paris Saint-Germain host Amiens while second-placed Marseille, who trail their bitter rivals by seven points, conclude 2019 against Nimes at the Velodrome.