The puns write themselves but the changing of the managerial Garde at Villa Park is complete and it’s time for Villa to return to the job at hand, staying in the Premier League. The man tasked with this is former Lyon manager Remi Garde. Many Villa fans won’t know a huge amount about the former Arsenal player but here’s a look at what he will bring to his new club if he is appointed, and what he may be lacking.
In many ways Garde may be a good fit at Villa Park. He is very highly regarded in France by his former employers Lyon and by his old boss Arsene Wenger and has been tipped as an eventual successor at the Emirates. While Garde only played 43 games for the Gunners he was considered a key figure in spreading Arsene Wenger’s philosophy through the squad and communicating the manager’s ideas.
Having worked with Wenger, as assistant under Gerard Houllier and Paul Le Guen, and then as director of the training academy at Lyon he has a good footballing education and he eventually made the step up to the managerial role and his record at Lyon is decent.
While paling in comparison to the dominating Lyon dynasty of recent times, Garde’s Lyon won domestic silverware twice at Lyon and finished 4th, 3rd, and 5th in consecutive seasons. This was all done with a restricted budget and in spite of the club downsizing wages and cashing in on several key players, which is likely to be similar to the situation at Aston Villa, so it’s good to know that it’s a system he has worked with before without falling out with the club.
However, he’s not afraid to put his foot down when it matters. In the face of losing Lyon captain Maxime Gonalons, Garde gave an ultimatum to the board and forced them to give the manager his way. Garde will be aware of the limitations in place at the club but he also has enough backbone to stick up for himself and his players, which will be vital in the coming months.
An obvious attribute that may help the squad and the incoming boss is the simple fact that he is French. Having carved out his career in Ligue 1 and regularly analyzing the games there as a pundit he is likely to already know all about Aston Villa’s summer recruits from France’s top division.
Garde speaks English perfectly fine, as well as his native French, so with his communication skills getting his point across shouldn’t be a problem. Hopefully he can get the three Jordan’s (Amavi, Ayew, and Veretout) firing, which will be central to any improvement at Villa.
During his time at Lyon, Garde was no stranger to developing young players and bringing them into his side and this will be key to any success at Villa Park as the squad is a relatively young one, and our academy has a few possible stars of the future. At Lyon, Garde worked with such talented youngsters as Nabil Fekir, Clinton N’Jie and Alexandre Lacazette and a similar approach with Grealish and co is likely.
While this will be his first English job, and only his second as a manager, Garde has several seasons of management under his belt (unlike our most recent manager) and has managed at a high level, including European competition. He is also likely to have picked up a few tricks from those he has worked under in the past, and Lyon’s recent return to the Champions League is at least in part thanks to foundations laid by Remi during his time there.
After having to pay off more than one manager in recent years, and the general tight purse strings held by the club’s owner, the fact that Garde is a free agent should at least mean that some more money stays at the club. Whether those extra pounds go towards securing his preferred coaching staff, January acquisitions, or stays in Mr.Lerner’s pocket remains to be seen.
In terms of Garde’s playing style, Gerrard Houllier described Garde as a manager whose philosophy will be attack-minded, but who also likes to build from the back. That should be music to fans ears especially in comparison to ‘we’ll just keep swinging and hope something hits’ as we had been hearing up until recently.
Garde has often used a 4-4-2 formation with two men up front but is fond of a diamond midfield, both of which could suit Villa’s current roster. Garde like to allow his full backs to really get forward so expect a holding midfielder to screen at the back while Amavi marauds up the left wing. The former Lyon chief will certainly bring more tactical acumen to the table than Tim Sherwood ever did.
Despite his experience in other competitions there is one glaring hole in Garde’s AVFC application, Premier League experience. It was the one thing we all called for after Tim Sherwood left. Managers with Premier League know how such as David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers were being linked to the Villa Park hot seat, and many fans were happier about those prospects.
Also, does Garde have the heart for the fight ahead? Can he inspire a group of players shot of confidence, that didn’t deliver on the ‘winning mentality’ his predecessor trumpeted. There are guarantees, but the same can be said about those potential managers touted with Premier League experience, perhaps only Moyes had any real experience of life at the wrong end of the Premier League, but he looks like a man currently shot of confidence.
Added to all that Garde has also been away from the management game for a year-and-a-half now and it remains to be seen whether he can pick up where he left off or whether he will take time to find his feet. Time is something that Villa can scarcely afford right now. Garde will need to make an impact fast or his lack of Premier League experience will be dragged into the media spotlight and flogged.
Overall, I think Garde should be a suitable choice for the role and certainly the best of the bunch the Villa board would actually pursue. Admittedly, he doesn’t have a history of Premiership management, but neither did Koeman or Bilić, perhaps it’s actually an overrated commodity? Plus, very few other realistic candidates for the job did either.
A lot of fans called for Moyes or Rodgers, but both indicated they were going nowhere until at least next summer and would have needed major money to bring them to Villa Park, even if they were willing.
At the least Garde should bring a decent brand of football, some actual on-pitch entertainment and he is likely to get the best out of our young players. Villa fans can be cautiously optimistic about his appointment but regardless of our opinions, Garde is here now and it’s our job to back him and the team.
If the new boss can get the best out of Villa’s youngsters and the Ligue 1 contingent, then he may well get Villa ticking again. One things for sure, we’ve got a serious fight on our hands. En Garde!
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