Randy Lerner has had the great pleasure of owning two professional sports teams in his life thus far, and has also had the pleasure of guiding both of these teams to their worst periods in recent memory. I wrote a piece a few months ago (when it appeared that Villa could still claw out of this disastrous mess) outlining the scarily similar fates of what happened to his Cleveland Browns shortly before he sold and what is happening to his Aston Villa as he continues to try and sell - the constantly deteriorating on-field performances, the lack of accountability, and most importantly, the inability to hire anybody who is capable of creating and sustaining success.
In the back of my mind, I thought that Garde had the potential to break Lerner's mold of unsuccessful coaching hires. In the NFL, he almost never strayed from his consistently unsuccessful strategy of hiring conservative coordinators with little imagination or energy. Until the appointment of Remi Garde, his perpetually failing mold for Villa was a Premier League veteran and entity. Garde, of course, was not - he was soft spoken, intelligent, and seemingly calm under any circumstance. I thought his Roosevelt-like "talk soft, carry a big stick" mentality, combined with his naiveté and continental attitudes, would be such a drastic departure from what the players were used to under Sherwood and Lambert that positive change would be inevitable. Hiring Garde seemed so bold, so unpredictable, so un-Randy Lerner that surely he would be the man to survive Lerner's poisonous impact.
But even a departure this severe wasn't safe from Lerner's grasp. Just as we saw the youth, vigor, and energy drained from Tim Sherwood in a matter of weeks this fall, so we saw Garde's black hair turn gray and his contained optimism disintegrate into unmistakable defeat.
With everything taken into account, it's hard to place any significant portion of the blame on Garde. While we know the stories of Paddy Reilly's lies to Garde's face, while we have seen the hopelessness embodied by the players, many still point the finger at Garde. But Garde isn't responsible for all the things that have ensured relegation - this team's hope was drained many months ago when Tim Sherwood took it with him in defeat after defeat. Paddy Reilly was a yes-man for Tom Fox who was a yes-man for Randy Lerner. Garde came in and did a valiant job - he tried to fix what we know now to be an unfixable situation. I'm glad that he reportedly leaves Villa Park with his reputation still in tact, because the blame for this entire situation shouldn't be pinned on Remi Garde, or Tim Sherwood, or Paul Lambert, or Paddy Reilly, or even Tom Fox - there is only one man who has sat in the driver's seat of this bus damned for the Championship.
For however long Randy Lerner's influence, opinion, and touch remains anywhere near this club, we will have nothing but more hard times. Unsuccessful managers will continued to be appointed, accountability will still be absent, and victories will remain few and far between. Only when he signs away his stake in the club and with it his involvement, will this club even have the chance to return to success.
What do you think? Let us know!