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Archive for May, 2011

Fall from Grace

Sunday 29thMay, 2011 will be a day all fans of AS Monaco will remember as they watched their team fall out of the top tier of French football Ligue 1. The seven time league champions had not suffered relegation since 1976 but they will now join fellow relegated sides RC Lens and Arles-Avignon in Ligue 2 next season. Needing a win at home to Champions League hopefuls Lyon, Monaco collapsed and went down 2-0 with goals from Pape Diakhate and Lisandro Lopez which meant the visiting side were left celebrating having secured a Champions League qualification spot whilst the majority of the crowd at the Stade Louis II ground were left to digest the fact that their side would now be playing in the second tier of the French league only seven years after competing at the top of European football in the Champions League Final.

The AS Monaco side before the 2004 Champions League Final

The list of honours in the history of Les Rouge et Blanc is a long one which includes 7 Ligue 1 titles between 1961 and 2000 as well as 5 Coupe de France titles. Successful periods through the 1960s and the late 1970s and 1980s established the side as one of the biggest teams in the French league and in more recent times, their run to the 2004 Champions League Final was their best ever European performance. Despite losing to Jose Mourinho’s FC Porto in the Final, impressive victories over Real Madrid and Chelsea in the knockout rounds won the club many admirers throughout Europe but since then they have never been able to reach similar heights in Europe or domestic football.

Park Chu-Young shows despair after relegation is confirmed

Always expected to finish around the top of the Ligue 1 table, they managed a strong third place finish in their Champions League Final season 2003-2004 and then repeated that finish a year later. However, they fell out of the of the bracket of the top clubs reaching Europe from Ligue 1 with 10th, 9th, 12th, 11th and 8th place finishes before this seasons disastrous campaign.

The recent past of players such as Thierry Henry, Patrice Evra, Emmanuel Petit and Ludovic Giuly are now a distant memory and the focus will now be to return to Ligue 1 at the first time of asking.

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Demand for Donaldson

As a Crewe Alex fan, so far the entirety of this off season has been dominated with rumours surrounding the out of contract Clayton Donaldson. The League 2 top scorer with 28 goals, Donaldson along with strike partner Shaun Miller led the Crewe attack that managed an impressive 87 league goals and the former Hibernian and York City striker has been attracting rumoured interest from a host of clubs in League 2, League 1 and the Championship.

Donaldson in action for Crewe

Dario Gradi has stated he would like to keep Donaldson and why wouldn’t he? After the season the striker has had. Donaldson managed 19 league goals in his first two seasons at Gresty Road, but his 29 goals in all competitions means this past year has been the best in his career so far in terms of goals. The offer made by the Alex would require Donaldson to take a pay cut on what he already earns and with most clubs able to offer much more in the way of wages compared to Crewe, it would seem unlikely he will remain in South Cheshire. The offer does include the incentive of Donaldson receiving a healthy percentage of any future transfer fee for the striker from other clubs but it seems pretty certain he will move on.

Bradford City, Donaldson’s home town club have been the most vocal in their pursuit of Donaldson with manager Peter Jackson apparently holding talks over a possible move to Valley Parade. Other League 2 clubs linked with his services have been Oxford United, Gillingham and newly promoted Crawley Town who will likely be able to offer much bigger wages than any club outside the Championship as they look to bring a second straight promotion through heavy investment. It would be a rather strange outcome however if Donaldson decides to remain in League 2 however with this being a great opportunity to move up the leagues.

League 1 teams mentioned as being interested in Donaldson include Carlisle, Chesterfield, Tranmere, Sheffield Wednesday, Charlton Athletic and Colchester United whilst Watford, Millwall and Coventry have also been suggested destinations in the Championship. Watford may be looking at Donaldson as a potential replacement for leading scorer Danny Grahama who is attracting interest from newly promoted Swansea City whilst Millwall’s leading striker Steve Morrison is on the verge of a move to another new Premier League side in Norwich City. However, regardless of where Donaldson winds up he will be expected to deliver a similar tally of goals and level of performance that he managed in this past season for Crewe.