The elimination in the Coupe de France by an anonymous third division team (Rouen) is the umpteenth setback for AS Monaco since the club opted for the Red Bull model four years ago. In fact, in four seasons, the Principality’s football club has not been able to live up to any of the high expectations. No silverware was won and there was never a participation in the Champions League.

Next Sunday the Nice – Monaco derby awaits, where the stakes can still be a possible participation in the next Champions League. But in the event of another defeat, Monaco could end up in a dark twilight zone and there seems to be little left to save. So there is a lot at stake in Nice, including for Austrian manager Adi Hütter, whose position is already shaky.

Chairman Rybolovlev, who is already investigating how to get rid of the club’s shares, witnessed the humiliating debacle in Rouen. It indicates that the Russian owner is also concerned about the situation. He hoped for an easy qualification because there was an autoroute open for Monaco to the semi-finals (because a home game against second division team Valenciennes would follow in the quarterfinals). It was an opportunity for an open goal in Rouen, but the team was unable to take advantage of it.

“A professional mistake,” RMC Info analyst Daniel Riolo called this defeat. “It is inconceivable that well-paid professionals lose such a competition to semi-pros who earn their living two levels lower. That is unacceptable. It’s the same story every year. Monaco starts the season well, is seen as the main rival of Paris SG and falls into a lethargy in the winter…”

Last season, the team sank so low in the spring under the leadership of coach Philippe Clement that it did not even qualify for European football. In this season, the same scenario is looming, even though the technical director (Paul Mitchell) and the coach have been replaced. But under Brazilian Thiago Scuro (also no more than a Red Bull evangelist) and Adi Hütter, nothing has changed. The football was still attractive in the first weeks, but since the home defeat against Nice (September 22) the engine has stalled, and the football is syrupy and predictable and the crowd stays away from Louis II. The team has slipped out of the top 3 (of a remarkably mediocre edition of Ligue 1, with a poor leader and historically poorly playing teams like Marseille and Lyon).

In the last three home games (against Lyon, Stade Reims, and Le Havre), Monaco could have run away from the rivals but only managed to get one point.

The pressure on coach Adi Hütter has been increasing in recent weeks. He defended himself this week: “Of course we are not satisfied with these results and not happy that we are not on the podium, but it is all about being that at the end of the season because that is our goal.” But it is highly questionable, after the experiences in recent years, whether that goal (participation in the upcoming Champions League) will be achieved. It always goes wrong when Monaco can make a nice jump in the rankings.

The elimination by Rouen is certainly not an isolated incident. Last year, Rodez was too strong and crucial matches were lost, including at Marseille and Lens. In this season there were the clumsy home defeats against Nice and Lyon, which were very recognisable to loyal fans.

Adi Hütter, who still doesn’t speak French enough to speak it in public, probably doesn’t know enough about these subtleties to recognise these problems. In fact, Monaco should once again be managed by someone who speaks French, knows French football and also recognises the specific problems that each Monaco team faces during a season. But the club’s management consists mainly of foreigners, who apparently don’t recognise those problems either. Hütter complained about the mediocre atmosphere in Louis II last weekend, but everyone in Monaco knows one thing: if the football is attractive, the crowd will come back.

The match in Nice is a ‘do or die’ match and if things go wrong, Hütter is ‘a dead man walking’. He is probably familiar with these expressions. Technical director Scuro is also to blame. He did not take up his duties until July 1, which meant that Hütter’s appointment was postponed as prepared by Mitchell. But the buying and selling policy is muddled, with last week the departure of Myron Boadu being quite remarkable in a week in which Monaco had only one fit striker (Ben Yedder), who had to be left alone in Rouen. For Scuro there was another setback earlier in the week as the youth team was eliminated as defending champions in the Coupe Gambardella by a mediocre club from Valence.

In short, everything is going wrong at all levels at the club, which is also looking for new investors.