The writing has been on the wall for Rémi Garde for months. Yes, rumours of his departure really picked up in the last couple of weeks, but from the moment the winter transfer window closed with no activity, we knew this was coming. There was no way that Garde's position with this club was tenable.
And no, Garde was not a great manager in his time with Aston Villa. He was, in fact, fairly bad. Especially in the last few weeks, we've seen uninspired lineups that keep making the same mistakes over and over again.
But there's an issue with the "Rémi was bad and THANK HEAVENS he's gone" narrative. The issue is the fact that this club have actively sabotaged his efforts to rebuild and make something stable out of what amounts to nothing more than a flaming pile of rubbish that insults flaming piles of rubbish everywhere by using that title.
Where can we start? How about with the now-fired Tom Fox? The same man, who in an interview with the Aston Villa Supporters' Trust said that the club had their two targets get away in January. A man who came out and said that a professional footballing organization in danger of relegation only had two godforsaken targets. That should have been our sign.
Or do we look at Paddy Riley. The director of scouting who told Garde that there were players who had no interest in playing for Aston Villa, only to have Garde speak with those players and find out that Riley was a lying cretin. The director of scouting who ensured that Aston Villa's head of European scouting lived in AUSTRALIA. A CONTINENT THAT IS 14,000 KILOMETERS AWAY. Or perhaps it's the fact that said scout was in charge of Bundesliga scouting. A league from which Aston Villa have not drawn since the ill-fated Michael Bradley Experiment.
Alternatively, we could look at the spineless people trotting onto the pitch wearing claret and blue kits who have the temerity to call themselves Aston Villa footballers. Joleon Lescott, who tweeted a picture of a fancy car after a devastating loss and then posted an apology for not giving his full effort. Or Gabby Agbonlahor who has done precisely nothing to pay back the fans and club who have taken care of him for most of his life. Injured for most of the season and ineffective for the rest of the time, his apathy has been on display for most of Garde's tenure.
Or Jordan Ayew who decided to get sent off in a vital match because his elbow had an itch and he thought perhaps Aaron Cresswell's face could scratch it. Or Micah Richards, a man who couldn't stay in his position if he were placed there in cement. Or Brad Guzan, the keeper who has seen his form plummet off a cliff and then goofs around in the dugout when he's not playing.
Or how about his predecessors? Tim Sherwood, that poisonous rat who just can't shut his mouth for a minute lest his ego stay stuffed inside of him and he explodes. Or Paul Lambert, a man who knows precisely what's wrong with Aston Villa and yet couldn't fix it in two and a half years in charge. Or... or... or... the list can go on.
No, Garde was not great. But he was basically doomed to fail. By a management team that actively lied to and betrayed him. By players who could not possibly care less about this club, the fans, or anything beyond their next paycheck. And by a system that was absolutely designed, from the very start, to ensure that he failed.
This club is a disaster right now, and while Steve Hollis may have some plans for how that can be changed headed forward, I find it hard to care at this moment. I'm done with this club. Not Aston Villa. I will never be done with Aston Villa. But I am done with this club. This particular iteration. They took the hope that Rémi Garde gave us, hope that was tenuous and not very far-reaching (ah stability, what a noble and unambitious goal), and they ground it into nothing.
Good luck in your next endeavor, Rémi. It's not hard to imagine that it will go better than it did here, because barring your own untimely demise, it would be tough for it to go much worse.