The Tottenham Hotspur match on Monday night was always going to be a strange, limbo-like event after the arrival of Remi Garde as Tim Sherwood’s replacement was confirmed earlier in the day. However, the manner in which Villa slipped to a ninth defeat in 11 league matches at White Hart Lane was no less disappointing, and at this stage the start of the Garde era cannot come soon enough. Here is a look at the good, bad and ugly of the 3-1 loss.
The announcement of Garde’s appointment earlier on Monday lifted spirits amongst Villa fans, at least until Kevin MacDonald’s lineup was announced (see ‘Bad’). Garde is as much of a gamble as Sherwood was, possibly more so because of his lack of coaching experience outside of France, but his appointment is understandably breeding optimism.
In his time at Lyon, Garde helped to bring down the wage bill considerably yet still successfully build a squad of fresh young talent, which he led to French Cup glory in 2012. He was largely responsible for the breakthrough of players such as Alexandre Lacazette, and there is hope that he can not only bring out the best in Villa’s ex-Ligue 1 contingent but also get younger players at the club such as Jack Grealish firing again.
Garde was watching from the stands as Villa were dreadful for over an hour before the introductions of Carles Gil and Jordan Ayew changed the game. How Sherwood and MacDonald couldn’t see that they are two of our better players is perplexing to say the least; Gil links the play up like no-one else in our squad, and Ayew looked determined to prove wrong the inexplicable decision to drop him after scoring his first goal for the club last weekend and winning a penalty in the League Cup defeat at Southampton in midweek.
The changes yielded almost instantaneous results. First Leandro Bacuna hit the post from 20 yards, before Ayew’s endeavour and attacking enterprise was rewarded with a goal, albeit via slight good fortune with a deflection. Rudy Gestede should have scored when he beat Hugo Lloris to the ball from Bacuna’s cross, and Ayew was hugely unlucky not to score a fine goal to equalise when he again cut in and fired a swerving, dipping effort just over from 25 yards.
Villa’s fightback ultimately petered out but there is undoubtedly a decent squad at the club for Garde to work with. He has less than a week of training to take before his first match in charge, against table-toppers Manchester City at Villa Park, but hopefully next weekend’s team selection will be a source of encouragement rather than despair.
Click next page for the Bad & Ugly…