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Au Revoir, M. Garde?

MattVillan wonders whether Aston Villa and Remi Garde are truly made for each other

Remi ponders his future
Remi ponders his future
Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Aston Villa have got rather good at losing. In fact, to borrow one of my least favourite Americanisms, we’re one of the two losingest teams in the top five European leagues (ESTAC Troyes joining us on 20 losses for the season) and you have to go all the way down to League Two to find anyone who’s lost more than us, with York and Dagenham & Redbridge both having lost 21.

That’s pretty bad, and the scary thing is as the weeks go by the odds narrow that we won’t see our club do anything else for the rest of the season. Times really are desperate at Villa Park.

Of those losses, 12 have come under the stewardship of Remi Garde, and the question on many fans’ lips is to whether or not he should remain at the club after the end of the season (any movement on that front prior to then would be monumentally pointless, given the hopeless nature of our position). In a poll which had been running since the final whistle of Sunday’s game, shown below, the split was roughly 2/3 wanting him gone and 1/3 wanting him to stay. Should he?

In asking this question we must remember that we are in no way blaming the man for all of Aston Villa’s problems this year. It has been said to death where we’ve gone wrong over the course of the last weeks, months and years, we know ultimately the buck stops at the feet of the Shunnamite, but, could Remi have done better? Can he do better in future?

In his defence, there have been some rather considerable mitigating circumstances, first and foremost was that we sold a 20 goal a season striker in the summer and replaced him with Rudy Gestede and Jordan Ayew. To Ayew’s credit (when not throwing elbows and games) he’s worked hard and done some good things, but he’s not a man to lead the line in the Premier League, and we can rather conclusively say the former is absolutely not a Premier League striker. We’ve lacked a cutting edge all year and despite Garde’s apparent best efforts the club did not move to rectify said problem when the transfer window was open in January, for reasons that were perhaps made clearer by last week’s release of our accounts for the previous year.

Some may also say that maybe the season was already dead when he arrived, but to suggest we were already relegated back in November is folly.

So what’s he done wrong? One could certainly argue he was partly to blame for January’s inactivity. Perhaps, as we have seen before, there was an emergency fund available to resuscitate our season, should we still be in touch with the pack, but consecutive losses to Norwich then Sunderland put paid to the possibility of unearthing said saviour. If Remi could have had more of an effect than the point against Manchester City in his first set of games perhaps the board could have justified the gamble, but ultimately when it came to January the goose was cooked and odds just too long.

The other big question mark floating around the former Arsenal man is whether or not he’s right for the Championship. In a league with a managerial population who almost to a man could do it on a cold, wet Tuesday night at the Britannia, is the Frenchman really cut out for the attrition and relentlessness of England’s second tier? Looking back of the last few years, generally managers who find themselves winning promotion out of that pit tend to do so off the back of more than just a few months’ experience of football on these shores. There are exceptions of course but you don’t need to be a statistician to recognise that the thing that happens more often is that which more likely to occur.

Furthermore, it might be that Garde himself has been tainted by the relentless, endless merciless losses. There is only so much one can take before becoming jaded and it might be that psychologically he simply isn’t up to task, or at least not here or so soon. Worryingly from this perspective he cuts a very forlorn figure on the touchline and seems stricken by the same wasting malaise that appears to befall all those who drink from our poison chalice of late.

Despite all this, a good third or so of the fanbase believe that Remi should be given a go with a summer to build his own squad and a bit of backing, after all he did well on a budget in France and you never know perhaps once the poison is cut out the wound the body may begin to thrive once more.

However, for this writer, it appears that the negatives outweigh the possibility for positives in a future with Remi remaining at the helm of our great old club. For the best of both us and him it would seem be right to part ways at the end of this car crash of a season. For Remi, there is talk of an opening as a technical director for the French national side, and for us Steve Bruce

I know who I'd rather be.

Up the Villa, as always