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Suggesting Garde “doesn’t know what he’s doing” isn’t sound

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When Carles Gil exited Villa’s 1-1 draw at Wycombe on Saturday, the travelling support chanted, “You don’t know what you’re doing” toward Villa manager Rémi Garde. Not only did they sound silly doing it, but it’s just flat out wrong.

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It took us, what, 10 games to get it off our chests? That’s how quickly we’ve decided a man that managed in the top third of Ligue 1 "doesn’t know what he’s doing" at Aston Villa?

Alright, then.

When Carles Gil, who had probably been Villa’s best player in yesterday’s 1-1 draw at Wycombe Wanderers, came off the pitch in the 71st minute, it was probably right to be a little annoyed by the sub. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Spaniard going off, but my first reaction wasn’t to criticize manager Rémi Garde for the move.

Nah, I thought: "How many times has Gil actually gone the full 90 minutes this year?" In the league, he’s done it just twice.

It’s been a common hallmark of Gil’s season that he’s good for 60 or 70 minutes a match and then fades quickly — making a substitution likely necessary. The final 20-25 minutes of his latest 90-minute run, at Sunderland, don’t seem to bode well for the argument he should’ve stayed in.

But beyond Gil’s fitness issues, there’s other things to take note of when proclaiming to Garde that he doesn’t know what he’s doing.

The way the away supporters reacted to the switch — and trust me, people noticed the singing — was as if Garde had taken Gil off for, I don’t know, Joleon Lescott in a 1-1 match against a worse opponent. In reality, the Frenchman brought on Jordan Veretout, a player who easily settled into Gil’s vacated role in a nice one-for-one swap. Getting fresh legs on in attacking positions as a match draws to a close is generally a positive move.

"But wait, there’s more!"

Think back to yesterday’s match and consider what Villa’s best period of play was. The Villans were never particularly great in that match, but the sustained pressure they were able to apply in the Wycombe third — enough to make the colour commentator remark that there was only one side, Villa, who looked capable of winning the tie — in the final 20 minutes of the match was better than anything the squad had done throughout the previous 70 minutes.

Coincidentally, those 20 minutes were after Garde made the substitution that somehow showed he "didn’t know what he was doing."

So let’s recap:

  1. Rémi Garde took off a player who’s rarely gone the full 90 minutes in starts this season.
  2. He swapped an attacking-minded midfielder for another one to get fresher legs on the pitch to push for a winner without changing shape in a match where Wycombe rarely threatened from open play.
  3. After the change was made, Villa entered their best period of the game, helped by Veretout and Jordan Ayew, who also came on in the same substitution.
Those sound like three positive moves by the manager. And perhaps a little proof he might know what he’s doing.

And when it comes to Villa right now, I get it. There’s a hell of a lot of deserved frustration that’s built up, and it’s led to Villa fans doing silly things.

But deriding the manager for taking off your favourite player when it made tactical sense to do so is silly.

Rémi Garde wasn’t the one who thought Alan Hutton and Leandro Bacuna could properly do the job at right back in the Premier League.

Nor was he the one who decided to sign an actual right back, only to agree to play him at centre back, breaking up a promising, young pairing that had worked really well together the previous year.

Nor was he the one who wanted another old centre back to come in and further break up that pairing.

And still, he wasn’t the one who thought Kieran Richardson was a competent backup at left back.

He also wasn’t the guy who couldn’t get a deal done for a quality goalkeeper in the offseason.

And nothing has changed the fact that he bought a Championship-calibre statue to lead the forward line.

So stop taking vitriol out on Garde for loads of things that are, quite honestly, well outside his control at this point in time. If you’ve paid attention to what he’s said in the press, he realizes the same issues with the club you and I do and is far from oblivious to finding solutions to them. But he’s stuck in a miserable place right now: Not being able to get a win with this incredibly poor side shouldn’t be a bad remark on him.

I mean, consider the starting XI he put out yesterday. Aside from playing Aly Cissokho at left back and Ayew instead of Rudy Gestede or Scott Sinclair, was there really anything you were upset about? He put out an XI that’s a couple pieces away from the best one Villa can field right now… and they still couldn’t beat Wycombe.

At a certain point, it becomes a player problem, not a manger one. I find it hard to believe that five managers have walked through the door at Bodymoor Heath since Martin O’Neill bolted on the club and that all of them haven’t known what they’re doing.

Give Garde a chance. That’s all I ask. I understand it’s frustrating that the guy hasn’t got a win in 10 fixtures. But he’s also working with a miserable side assembled by someone else, one built for a style of play that likely isn’t his.

But regardless of what you sing, he probably does know what he’s doing.