What We Learned After Garde Exit, Chelsea Whipping, Little Return

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As weeks go, this was a pretty eventful one – hopefully one that will be seen as the start of better days (Chelsea performance and result aside). What did Aston Villa fans learn as the Garde era ended and the ground work for a long-view was laid?


Rémi Garde was a gamble. For all those fans who heralded him as the long-term future if only he was given money and time – sorry it didn’t happen. He wasn’t given either and once the players stopped trying for him, the writing was on to wall. Five months and 24 games were wasted in total, for whatever reason. Blame whoever you want – the players, the board, Garde himself.

It was a costly experiment by a group who came up with the idea of an untested foreign coach, then decided to stop funding the experiment midway through, and executed by a team of players who could only play so well and only tried so hard.

Writing the wrongs is easy when everything was wrong, but Garde will be remembered as the manager who took the team down from the Premiership for the first time. The whys and wherefores will only account for so much of the blame.


Brian Little couldn’t be more associated with Aston Villa. A legend as a player and the last Aston Villa manager to bring home a trophy, his appointment to the board is not just ceremonial and is the kind of appointment fans have been screaming out for since the suits took over assuming their business acumen would somehow reflect what was happening on the pitch.

Will Brian Little be content with a former Blues manager taking over at Villa Park? You wouldn’t think so, unless he was very, very sure he was the right man. Can you see Little welcoming someone like Stan Collymore – a player he signed for the club – back with open arms and an open mind? There’s every chance.


Did Little take the horrible performance against Chelsea with the same disgust as the fans? One would hope so. Little truly is “one of our own” and his influence will hopefully prevent some of the ridiculous moves the club has pulled (see McLeish, Alex) ever happening again.


This column is no fan of Leandro Bacuna, for sure. Not his footballing ability, not his attitude and not the fact he is given so much playing time.

But did he deserve to be singled out in the Chelsea game? Maybe. Richards, Lescott and Guzan also took some heat according to press reports, but Bacuna’s every touch was booed linked in part to an interview where he talked about leaving Villa – and maybe English football – at the end of his contract. Also there were probably some fans upset as his Instagram posts where he was relaxing at a time when the last thing fans want to see is anyone associated with the club not pulling their weight.

But read the quote. When he was asked where he could see himself moving back to the Dutch Eredivisie he said: “That would just be to Ajax or PSV, I think. They play Champions League football almost every year. If I have a chance to go there, why not?” That’s not really saying he would only move for CL football, nor saying he feels like he deserves that move. He’s seems to be saying IF he was to move back to the Netherlands, he would only consider the bigger clubs.

This isn’t some “why can’t be all just get along?” plea, but really, isn’t there enough booing for everyone to get some?


What was the worst part of the defeat?

The empty seats that got emptier as the game went on? Guus Huddink’s barely even celebratory celebrations as the first goal went in? The fact Chelsea brought two full Brazilian internationals off their bench with plenty of game to go while Villa didn’t make any subs at all until 0-4 down at home, finally bringing on a U21 player for 10 minutes at the end – expecting what, exactly? The protests? The paper flying on to the pitch? The ironic cheers when the team managed to string some passes together? The not-ironic boos? The seventh straight defeat – for the second time this season? The no goals scored – again?

All of the above?


Follow Adam Keeble on Twitter @keebo00

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