Let me frame this before I begin.
I don’t dislike Garde. He comes across as a thoughtful, intelligent coach.
However, I was unsure whether the former Lyon boss was the right man for the job at Villa. We needed a no-nonsense figurehead to somehow gel a poor squad together; an inexperienced continental coach seemed the least desirable option.
Our results over his short tenure leave a great deal to be desired.
Conceded: 40. [FOUR ZERO]
Again, I’m not pointing the finger of blame at Remi for precisely why we will get relegated, I just wonder whether he or someone else could have done more to stop it happening. I look at the table and wonder why we aren’t in a relegation battle with the ¾ teams above us with some confusion.
Our current malaise will, after-all, see Villa slip out of the division meekly, without the merest suggestion of a fight. Randy Lerner’s indifference and Tom Fox’s ineptitude are the root cause, but the man they have left out to dry is increasingly (for me at least) coming to personify our clubs failings.
Comparison of recent managers;
The above gives us a snapshot, but a very telling one. Garde is at least 25% worse than McLeish (the next lowest return on points). Arguably McLeish had a harder job, with zero budget, tasked to reduce the wage bill & being a universally despised appointment.
The key to the above, is despite manager’s individual failings and the clubs attempts to undermine them, they kept us (somehow) in the Premier League.
Even looking back to Sherwood, as bad as we were, the fact is we are actually now much worse under Garde. We win less often, score far fewer goals and are picking up less points. And the other uncomfortable fact is that nothing has changed in terms of personnel since the beginning of the season. Only our methods & coaching staff.
Garde can rightly point to the fact that he wasn’t backed in the January transfer window when clearly he was promised funds. Equally he can reference a shocking squad and with some conviction evidence it’s shortcomings.
However, despite these issues, he has been reluctant to blood a single promising youngster to the first team, instead opting to recall faded talents like Agbonlahor or public embarrassments such as Lescott. It defies rational thinking.
The elephant in the room is that Garde doesn’t inspire or motivate. He cuts a resigned figure, almost accepting of our fate and seemingly oblivious to the need to try something new during games. He also describes insipid, negative football such as the 1st half at Man City as “good”. That has to be a worry.
Our relegation has become all but a certainty because we became too negative, too conservative and lethargic in everything that we do.
Where are the reactive substitutions? Why isn’t there a desire to try hungry talent if only for 20 minutes? Why don’t our players fear walking into the dressing room to answer for another drubbing? The suggestion being that Garde may not even be in the dressing room after games. Astonishing if true.
I have the feeling that Garde is perhaps the right man at the wrong time for Villa, he might have been the necessary thinking man to work through the rubble of the O’Neill era. But in our desperate position now, he feels less and less the right fit with each passing moment.