Our new French lieutenant has been preparing for his first match in charge, but he’s got a lot of work to do if he is to rescue this Villa side from the drop. Below are five key areas in which Remi Garde needs to make an impact and has some big decisions to make. We’ll no doubt be able to tell a lot about his mindset to the task in hand from his very first team sheet, even if it is against Manchester City. We wish him luck…
The French Connection
Let’s get the most obvious one out of the way first. Aston Villa brought in a raft of Ligue 1 players this summer and despite definite potential they have not all hit the ground running. Garde will need to get the best out of the likes of Amavi, Ayew, Veretout, and Gana, if Villa are to live up to their potential and secure Premier League safety, and something for Villa to build on for next year.
Fluent in English and French and lauded as an excellent communicator by previous employers, Remi Garde needs to get the club’s Ligue 1 talents to show their ability, even if he does so without the use of his native French language, which he has suggested he’ll refrain from using in the changing room. Of course, for one-on-one, man-on-man chats, it will no doubt come in useful though.
The Rear Garde
For the first time this season Villa are close to having a fully fit defensive selection and that poses some interesting possibilities. Until now the defense has been largely chosen by necessity and by the fact that Tim Sherwood promised Micah Richards he would play centre back. Tim Sherwood is gone now and deciding what to do with the back four will be vital.
Clark and Okore must be considered for starting roles particularly with Lescott having such a woeful start to his Villa career. Amavi will most likely be the first choice left-back but what about the right side? Will Hutton be preferred or will Richards finally be sent back to his more natural right-back position?
Managing Young Blood and Dead Wood
While Villa may be missing some of last years key players, and are yet to see the best from their French legion, the club does possess some talented youngsters and Garde has shown in the past that he isn’t afraid to let youth show their off their talents. Keeping Adama Traore, Carles Gil, and Jack Grealish fit, motivated, and involved will be key and there are a number of academy players who will be eager to shine under the new boss. It will be interesting to see if the likes of Hepburn-Murphy getting into matchday squads or whether Villa’s youth will have to wait for their chances.
January will bring the opportunity to strengthen (hopefully), but also the chance to clear out some individuals who are past their sell by date. Charles N’Zogbia for example, must go as his wages are better spent elsewhere.
Beyond that there is an element of the unknown when a new manager arrives. Will Kozak, N’Zogbia, and Senderos be given a go? Does Aly Cissokho have a future at the club on his return? Will we ever see Gary Gardner again? Will Gabby somehow continue to be a regular starter? Watch this space.
Tactics – Goals
Under Tim Sherwood Aston Villa’s tactics and line ups regularly seemed to have been plucked from a hat. This lucky dip approach was detrimental to any chance of consistency and Garde will have to get his tactics and philosophy across fast. During his time at Lyon Garde often opted for two up front, with the likes of Gomis and Lacazette being partnered at times. Rudy Gestede could certainly use some help up top and a partnership between him and Jordan Ayew could reap rewards with the right management and supply.
Garde’s defensive choices have been mentioned, but he will need to bring goals too if Villa are to claw their way up the table and players like Libor Kozak may also see this as an opportunity to prove themselves.
Ayew could be preferred as a lone striker to Gestede. Gil must be utilsed more as the team’s best creative outlet and link between the middle of the park and the front. There are plenty of options but what will be important now is picking a system and a regular team and allowing them to develop, instead of playing Sherwood’s style of selection roulette, or Mac Donald’s uninspiring phone-it-in line-ups.
Most obvious and most important of all. Villa need points. It doesn’t matter how we get them as long as we get them. Previous evidence would suggest that Garde will seek to attack teams, as well as hitting them on the counter, and that sounds great, but if grinding out some ugly 1-0 wins is what it takes, then I’ll take points over entertainment any day.
We can afford nothing less. Garde will need to instil discipline into the team to see out games when we are in the lead, as we were against Leicester, Sunderland, and Swansea.
It’s clear that Remi Garde has a job on his hands but the question remains, can he do it or will it prove too much for him? What do you think is the most important thing for him to tackle? Is Garde the right man for the job? Let’s hope so. UTV
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