It’s been a strange week if you’re a Villa fan. A manager sacked over a week ago, and only now has a replacement actually been named.
Yet the name of the man who will replace Tim Sherwood in the Villa dugout has been known the whole time. The problem, apparently, was the refusal of Monsieur Remi Garde’s former employers, Lyon, to release two of their current coaching staff, freeing them to join Villa and team up with Remi Garde again.
Fair enough, really. Who wants to lose their coaches in the middle of the season?
Now the question must be whether or not Remi Garde is actually the right man for the job. And given the situation Villa are in, maybe that’s not a silly question. After all, no wins since the opening day and some very poor performances, not to mention questionable tactical decisions.
Not everyone thinks Garde is the right man, though. Stan Collymore doesn’t. He thinks David Moyes should be brought in instead. Fair enough too. He’s entitled to an opinion.
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But very few people seem to be saying that Garde is the wrong man for Villa, or at least, very few seem to be saying that with an argument any more sophisticated than ‘he’s never managed under the scrutiny and pressure of the Premier League before.’
Well, no. He hasn’t. But it’s an odd argument.
Had Villa brought him into the club in June I don’t think the same argument would have been made.
After all, the club weren’t in the midst of a relegation battle back then, there was no need for fear and pessimism. So I’m not really sure why it’s needed now.
Remember that there are only ten games of the season gone. Tonight will be the Villains’ 11th game of the season. That means they still have 27 games left to save themselves. They have a lot of time left to sort it out, and a new manager with the right ideas should be able to do it.
Villa are four points from safety right now. Do Villa fans really think that their team isn’t good enough to finish the season four points above Bournemouth or five points above Norwich, for example? Because, frankly, if they aren’t good enough to do that then I’m not sure even Pep Guardiola can help.
Villa are much better than that. And in Remi Garde they’ll be getting a man who has worked under perhaps even more serious pressure than he’ll face at Villa. During his time at Lyon he had to sell his best players to make ends meet as the club were in dire financial straits following the 2008 financial meltdown.
Surely that’s a lot tougher than having 27 games to save a club that really and seriously shouldn’t be getting relegated anyway. He’ll have 27 games to make sure that a team that made it to the FA Cup final last season can gain four more points than at least three other teams in the league. Of course the situation facing Villa is serious, but it’s not critical just yet.
— Aston Villa FC (@AVFCOfficial) November 2, 2015
Others think Garde will be a good appointment, and like former Villa manager Paul Lambert, they think Garde will be a good appointment because he can get a grip on the French players already at the club, and help them to bed in.
It’s another easy argument to make, really, and it sounds a bit strange. Why can’t any other manager handle french players? Wasn’t Eric Cantona a great player when he played under Sir Alex Ferguson?
Yes, Garde will help the French guys bed in, yes he’ll help with the language, and yes he’ll be familiar with a core group of players from his time in Ligue 1. They’re all players who excelled in that league and who Garde should know quite well.
But the bigger question is, will he keep them up? And I think that he has enough quality in the team, that he has enough intelligence as a manager to make the tactical decisions that so hopelessly escaped Tim Sherwood (like bringing off Carles Gil when 2-0 up at Leicester even though he was the only player in the entire XI who seemed capable of holding onto the ball).
Villa can look forward to a more cohesive dressing room, and I think that means more cohesive play on the pitch. But what is more important is that they can look forward to smart tactical attacking football. And that’s what will get them far.
Under Garde, Villa can flourish. They don’t have a bad team, and if they can go out and play to their potential, they’re much better than a team who will only finish four points off Bournemouth. Relegation shouldn’t be an issue if they play well, and Remi Garde is a man who can make Villa play well.