While Tim Sherwood had charisma and charm, he failed to inspire at Villa Park and was rightly dismissed from his duties last month. His replacement? Lyon manager Remi Garde. The Frenchman was linked with a move to Newcastle United in the summer but, after Mike Ashley appointed Steve McClaren instead, nothing materialised and Garde finally earned his place in the Premier League with Aston Villa.
Garde performed well during his three-year stint with Lyon and certainly looked the part in the technical area during Aston Villa’s 0-0 draw with Manchester City. The former Lyon boss made some excellent tactical decisions throughout the encounter and there were plenty of positive signs to suggest that Villa could upset the odds and avoid relegation with Garde at the helm.
No False Dawns
With over 20 matches remaining, it would be foolish to suggest that one home draw against Manuel Pellegrini’s men means that Villa will definitely survive the drop. However, it would be equally irrational to claim that they are destined to go down. Villa showed enough glimpses throughout the contest but failed to really test City’s defence. In fact, they had just three shots – none of those troubled goalkeeper Joe Hart.
In reality, they failed to create anything clear-cut. More than anything, Garde wanted to stop the rot of successive defeats and he achieved that aim. Villa were incredibly well organised and produced their best defensive performance of the campaign. While they weren’t entertaining, they got the job done and the manager deserves plenty of plaudits for proving that they are able to hold their own against the Premier League’s elite clubs.
To be successful in the Premier League, it is crucial to not only be good but to also be lucky. If Villa are to survive, they will need their fair share of luck. Under Sherwood, they didn’t get much. Under Garde, we will have to wait and see. Sometimes you can make your own luck, but it is absolutely crucial for struggling sides to scrape victories. Villa will need to show plenty of doggedness and aggression to fight for wins throughout the season and Garde’s tenacious style of management will suit a team fighting for their lives.
Offensively, Villa lacked a main focal point in attack. However, Garde cannot be blamed for their lack of punch. The former Lyon manager is still getting to know his team and it would be unfair to judge him too harshly on his debut Premier League performance. Villa travel to Aston Villa this weekend and supporters will be intrigued by his squad selection after he has had a full two weeks to learn more about the team and their individual strengths and weaknesses.
It would be harsh to judge Remi Garde until he has had the opportunity to put his own stamp on things at Villa Park. The Frenchman will be keen to invest heavily in the January transfer window and it will be interesting to see if controversial owner Randy Lerner allows him to bring fresh faces into the club. Lerner has previously restricted managers in the transfer window and Villa will continue to struggle until their American owner realises that investment now plays a crucial role in the sport.
By the same token, it wouldn’t be right to claim that Villa are a much improved side under the former Lyon boss. Right now, they have played just one match with Garde at the helm and, while there were signs of quality, it would be simply ridiculous to form such an opinion on 90 minutes’ worth of action. Given time, Villa may show resilience and reliability under Garde but for now, we should sit back and eagerly await their fixtures in the coming weeks.