15 September 2014 14:53
Leonardo Jardim has backed Monaco’s experienced players to lead by example ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash with Bayer Leverkusen.
Monaco saw a host of key players – including Radamel Falcao and James Rodriguez – leave the club in the transfer window, leading to suggestions that their ambitious project to become one of the best teams in Europe has hit a standstill.
Jardim has just four points from his first five Ligue 1 games in charge since taking over in June.
But the 40-year-old believes the likes of Ricardo Carvalho, Dimitar Berbatov and Jeremy Toulalan can help give Monaco a boost on the European stage as they start their Group B campaign with a tough home game against the early Bundesliga leaders.
“The project has changed but everyone continues to work with the same attitude and convictions,” Jardim said.
“We have to find a balance between youth and experience.
“We have three of four experienced players in this competition, Berbatov, Toulalan and Ricardo Carvalho, who will help the others.”
For captain Toulalan the situation is strikingly similar to the one he experienced with Malaga in the 2012-13 season, when a side that had lost the likes of Salomon Rondon and Santi Cazorla in the transfer window managed to reach the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
“We know what it is like to play in the UEFA Champions League. It is something special. The young ones are ready,” Toulalan said.
“A lot has happened at the club recently but we are staying focused. This game could give us a bit of fresh air. We fight all year for those European places so we want to go as far as possible.
“The current situation reminds me of Malaga a couple of years ago when a great UEFA Champions League run helped our form in the league. We need to win to get our confidence back.”