Gabby Agbonlahor wakes up and rolls to the side. Blinking, he moves himself to the edge of his bed, stirring slightly. Yawning, he paws at his eyes and stretches. It's Christmas Morning. Gabby almost leaps to a standing position before darting downstairs, his bare feet almost slide across the wooden flooring of his landing. Approaching the Christmas tree, Gabby licks his lips as he prepares to pounce and tear packaging asunder to produce what may possibly be a Playstation 4 with Star Wars Battlefront (and of course, FIFA 16, Gabby loves to start himself up front as well as create his own 'Virtual Pro', so he can pass to himself) or the latest Apple iPad. As his stubby fingers trace the vinyl-like lining of the green wrapping, a knock appears at his door. For a second, he is ten years of age - 'Santa?' he almost innocently wonders, as he notices a figure waiting for him to open the entrance to his comfortable abode. Who could it be?
Gabby's smile vanishes as Remi Garde stands before him, Robert Duverne backs him up.
Christmas morning is over for Mr. Agbonlahor.
Gabby Agbonlahor, like the first of Villa's first team will be spending his Christmas Morning working his socks off at Bodymoor Heath to prepare for the Boxing Day (26th of December) matchup against West Ham United.
"Players are responsible, they are adults."
"They have to find some comfort."
"I'm okay for them to spend some Christmas time with their family."
"I believe with family you can find strength."
"Then the next day you come in and say: "I had some lovely time with my family and now I want to win."
"We play at 3pm, too, so it's the same pattern as every time."
- Remi Garde speaking to AVFC.CO.UK
Whilst it may appear strict from the outset, Aston Villa's players are playing a home game the next day, so it makes sense to arrange a session so they can get one up over the travelling Hammers. Having the rest of the day to spend with family shows a different side to Remi Garde, whom everyone believed may keep his Villa players under lock and key having made an example of Jack Grealish previously. Garde may have possibly wanted to keep his squad away from their families for what is obviously a special day and to be honest, that would have really blurred the lines to how far footballers are expected to go to serve players. I wouldn't be totally comfortable to sacrifice special occasions for our players just so they can knuckle down, because A) they should be doing it every week and B) it's bloody Christmas for crying out loud.
What do you think? Should the players be allowed to relax or should they be drilled over Xmas? Let us know in the comments below.