With the focus on the international scene, Remi Garde quietly departs Aston Villa as his managerial nightmare at Villa Park has come to its inevitable conclusion.
One only wonders what was going through Randy Lerner’s mind when the owner of Aston Villa decided to gamble on the Remi Garde after sacking Tim Sherwood back in November. Three consecutive third place finishes with Olympique Lyonnais in Ligue 1 was all the managerial experience the former Arsenal player had amassed before he was thrown into the deep end – a relegation dogfight in the Premier League.
Having lost key players like Fabian Delph and Christian Benteke in the summer, Villa rolled the dice and spent over £50M on a raft of players with limited Premier League experience. To say that their recruitment strategy was a disaster was an understatement as 4 points from their opening 11 games spoke of a team struggling to gel and find their feet. Bottom of the Premier League, it was increasingly evident that Aston Villa were Championship-bound.
Taking advice from his former manager and mentor Arsene Wenger, Garde took on the challenge to try and bail out the sinking ship at Villa Park. Promised funds in the January transfer window to try and salvage the situation, Garde arrived at Villa with a three and a half year contract optimistic of his chances.
A 0-0 draw against Manchester City in his first match in charge snapped a run of 7 straight defeats as players seemingly responded to his appointment. A brief period of 2 wins and 4 draws from 9 games between mid December to early Feburary including a morale boosting win against fellow strugglers Norwich City revived some hope of staving off relegation.
The death blow to Villa’s campaign though was when the January transfer window came and went without Villa making a single signing. Having identified potential transfer targets early on, Garde could only watch in frustration as the players he wanted either moved to other club; Seydou Doumbia moving to Newcastle United, Wahbi Khazri signing for Sunderland and Mathieu Debuchy joining Bourdeaux. It was little wonder he spoke out against the club in the wake of the failed transfer window.
Yet by doing so, Garde showed a distinct lack of faith in the players he had at his disposal. After all, any manager worth his salt knows that part of his job is to develop the players he has into a coherent unit that produces more than the sum of their parts. On this count, Garde has failed spectacularly.
Unsurprisingly, Villa failed to build any momentum and recorded 6 losses on the trot as the wheels fell off. Humiliating one-sided defeats 6-0 and 4-0 to Liverpool and Manchester City respectively essentially destroyed any lingering goodwill in the club. With relegation a certainty, Garde opted to end his nightmare and left Villa by mutual consent.
And so a 4 month gambit has come to an inglorious end as neither Garde, nor Aston Villa have come out as winners. Yet the biggest losers of all have to be the Villa fans as they contemplate life in the Championship next season. As for Garde, it is doubtful that we will be seeing him managing in the Barclay’s Premier League any time soon again.