Thierry Henry engaged the minds of his Monaco team with "bright, engaging" training sessions and could have been "fantastic" for the club had he not been sacked so quickly during the 2018-19 season, according to Rony Lopes.
After a difficult start to the campaign that saw them win just one of their first nine matches, Leonardo Jardim was dismissed in October and replaced swiftly by Henry, who had previously been Roberto Martinez's assistant with Belgium.
With an injury crisis ravaging the squad, results were little better under Henry, who won two of his 12 matches in charge, finding himself dismissed in January after a crushing 5-1 home defeat by Strasbourg and subsequently moving on to Montreal Impact in MLS.
Curiously, Jardim was reinstated after Henry's sacking, but he only lasted until December and Lopes – who was a part of the Monaco squad last season – feels the Frenchman was shown the door too soon, convinced he was having an impact on a squad that had felt the full force of bad luck with injuries.
"The time with Henry was a very hard campaign because it was a moment in the season when we had 17 injured players," Lopes said to the Athletic. "We played in the Champions League with five strikers who were 18 years old.
"Even if they are good players, they do not have the experience to play games like that. It was a hard season for them. I have never been in a situation like that in my life.
"I think people don't really know what happened with Thierry. In my opinion, the club did not give him enough time. The training sessions were really good and the ideas were bright, engaging and good.
"When he had the players back fit, and the team starting to be how he wanted, the club sacked him. I did not agree with that. If they had given him more time, he could have been a fantastic coach for Monaco.
My first words today are to my dear friends of AS Monaco. It was a pleasure and an honor to wear your jersey and represent such a great club. I arrived as a young boy full of hopes and dreams and depart today as a Man, thanks to you. We've been through a lot together and both in victories and in defeats, you were there for us. More, you have been one of us, fighting at our side. And that will stay forever with me. One big THANK YOU to my colleagues, to the coaches, the technical staff and of course to you, Monaco fans, who make this club so big... I leave today but you will never, ever leave me. Hope to see you all soon! MERCI BEAUCOUP POUR TOUT!! #DagheMunegu!!!
"In training, I could see the signs. The team had confidence back again. Things were going well at the moment they sacked him."
Lopes moved on ahead of the 2019-20 season, joining Sevilla in a deal reportedly worth an initial €20million – but it has been a strange campaign, with the Portuguese winger hardly featuring before the coronavirus pandemic brought a halt to the action.
For Lopes, the biggest challenge of the lockdown in Spain is keeping himself focused psychologically despite having nothing to train for.
"I am in Seville with my fitness coach and my cousin," he said. "For sure, if I was here alone I would go mad. These moments are crazy. We can only leave the house to go to the supermarket. If you go and you don't know what to say to the police, you will pay a fine. The important thing is to follow the rules and protect people.
"The challenge is psychological for everyone. I am used to staying at home, apart from going for dinner, but it is a difficult period for us. We are used to training with dozens of friends, so it is difficult.
"We are training for nothing, as there is nothing at the end of the week. We have to keep our minds straight and think positive things."