I reached out to Aston Villa Head of Communications Tommy Jordan to ask about the Telegraph's report of a split in the club. The initial report had said that players had formed two camps divided over their opinions on manager Rémi Garde, with some disliking the manager and others (mainly new arrivals) supporting him.
Jordan has categorically denied the report, saying that the "story about two camps is total rubbish." Apparently, when journalist Sam Wallace was writing the piece, he was told as much by Jordan, but chose to ignore it. Jordan elaborated: "There isn't one group and another. Total nonsense. Half the English players mentioned aren't even close."
Now it becomes a question of who to believe. Jordan was absolutely vehement in his denial of the report and I've never been led astray by him before. His explanation that some of the players aren't close also explains what I thought was a bit odd about the initial story: why would Mark Bunn be included in a group that dislikes Garde when Garde has been the manager who gave him a chance this season?
But for the other side, why would Wallace write a report without having good sources for it? Jordan said that Wallace was a friend of former manager Tim Sherwood (which I interpreted as meaning Wallace might have an axe to grind) but writing a column like this seems like a long way to go to support a friend. What, then, would be the motivation here?
My best guess? There is probably a little bit of truth in both. While I highly doubt that the schism is as stark as what Wallace depicted, I also don't find it hard to believe that players like Gabby Agbonlahor and Joleon Lescott would chafe under Rémi Garde's leadership.
We've reached out to Wallace for comment and will update this story with anything he says if he chooses to get back in touch.