West Ham’s squad of 2002/03 and Monaco’s current roster have plenty in common.
For West Ham 02/03’s crop of talented youngsters in Joe Cole, Michael Carrick and Jermain Defoe read Monaco’s Youri Tielemans, Pietro Pellegri and Aleksandr Golovin.
Both squads contain a 34-year-old Italian, although Paolo Di Canio outshines Monaco’s occasional right-back Andrea Raggi quite significantly.
Then there’s the Mali connection.
West Ham 02/03 could call upon Frederic Kanoute while Monaco count Almamy Toure and Adama Traore amongst their ranks.
There’s even an Eastern European via Serie A defensive theme with the Hammers signing Tomas Repka from Fiorentina and Monaco signing fellow centre-back Kamil Glik from Torino.
But that’s where Monaco will hope the connections end.
West Ham’s 2002/03 squad are regularly referred to as the best side ever to be relegated, and quite rightly too.
A squad containing David James, Trevor Sinclair, Nigel Winterburn, Glen Johnson, Lee Bowyer, Cole, Carrick, Defoe, Di Canio and Kanoute went down on the final day of the season.
Needing to better Bolton’s result, West Ham could only draw 2-2 with newly-promoted Birmingham, ending a ten-year stay in the Premier League.
Defoe, Cole, Johnson, Kanoute, Sinclair, James and Di Canio all left in the summer, with West Ham having to wait until 2005 to gain promotion back to the top flight.
Monaco are currently doing their best to wrestle the Hammers’ title of ‘the best relegated side ever’ back to France.
After eight games of the Ligue 1 campaign Monaco find themselves in the relegation zone, having failed to win since the opening game of the season.
A 2-0 loss to Saint-Etienne, in which former Sunderland midfielder Wahbi Khazri scored twice, meant Monaco have already lost back-to-back matches twice this season.
Monaco lost Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Joao Moutinho, Rachid Ghezzal and Keita Balde in the summer, with Leonardo Jardim bringing in a host of players including Golovin, Benjamin Henrichs, Willem Geubbels and Nacer Cadhli as replacements.
Jardim has previous with replacing stars, having had to deal with the loss of Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva and Tiemoue Bakayoko the previous campaign.
But this season is currently looking like one renovation too far.
Time for Radamel Falcao to rediscover his goalscoring boots, unless he wants to become the new (old) Di Canio.
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