It appears that new Aston Villa manager Remi Garde took the first step towards bringing in his tried and trusted staff with the likely arrival of controversial fitness coach Robert Duverne to Villa this week.
On Tuesday, Ligue 2 side FC Metz announced that Duverne would be allowed to rejoin Aston Villa and reunite with Garde after the pair previously worked together at Lyon successfully from 2011-14. Translating the article, it seems that Duverne had an agreement in place with Metz for more than a year now that would allow him to connect with the French manager in England whenever that situation arose, which also suggests that Garde has been waiting for the perfect Premier League job for some time now.
For those of you who don't know, Duverne has been at Aston Villa before under Gerard Houllier during the 2010-11 season. The fitness coach famous for his falling out with Patrice Evra and Nicholas Anelka in the France squad at the 2010 World Cup in South Africa then caused a stir at Villa, making enemies with Richard Dunne, James Collins and none other than veteran Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor.
According to reports, Duverne didn't like the casual drinking of alcohol and overall lack of fitness from some members of the Villa squad and was putting them through pre-season style training in March towards the end of the Premier League season. Coincidentally, or probably not so much, Villa finished that season with wins over Newcastle United and West Ham United in April and great victories over Arsenal and Liverpool in May to go from relegation battlers to top-half finishers.
This news has to be seen as a positive for fans of Aston Villa.
Sure, Duverne has a history of being unpopular with some players, but with four points from 11 games and on the back of seven consecutive Premier League defeat, Villa need to make bold decisions like bringing in Duverne to have any chance of turning this season around and staying up.
Moreover, fitness has been a HUGE issue for Aston Villa this season, whether the players want to admit it or not. The club has dropped 10 points from winning or drawing positions in the second halves of matches already, most notably after tiring against Sunderland, Leicester City and Swansea City in games that should've all been wins.
And anything that gives Agbonlahor a kick up the backside is a positive in my book.