Wednesday, 30 March 2016

Changing Of The Garde

Aston Villa's slide towards the Championship has been one of the more agonizing of recent times. Remi Garde thinks he has had it bad? The plummet dates back as far as Martin O'Neill's departure in August 2010 and Gerard Houllier's replacement, the other Frenchman to helm this particular titanic.

Garde's unkind record of two wins in twenty games can partly be explained by a lack of transfer funds in January, This is not a new problem for an Aston Villa manager. O'Neill's original departure was one borne out of frustration at the board refusing to invest in a side that found sixth place a frustrating, if now out-of-reach ceiling.

Six years on and the club finds itself crashing through an ever-cracking floor. A reliance on cheap imports (mainly from France, and I'm not talking about the manager, Garde has a sound reputation back in his homeland) has left the club ill-equipped to either survive in the Premier League or even guarantee a return back at the first attempt. Comparisons to Fulham are deserved - a club who currently sits 21st in the Championship after a free-fall out of the top tier.

Unless real investment is made by the club's new board, now including both Adrian Bevington and Steven Holis, tough times lie ahead for the Villains.

Garde must not be blameless in this near-certain relegation. From January he has appeared resigned to his and the club's fate, and even early on in his 147-day reign he appeared to lack the necessary passion (ironically the very same, if short-lived, attribute that his predecessor Tim Sherwood possessed in bucket-loads.)

It was thought that he would be able to unite a squad that was Gallic-heavy, if short on true Premier League quality. But it seems he became as lacking in hope as anyone at the club. He resembled Paul Jewell in that infamous Derby record-low total season from 2008 - the post-match interviews evoking  a slowly but intensely burning fire.

Speaking of fires, the job currently does not require a firefighter. It requires someone willing to take a short-term hit to the reputation. It has been said that Villa may wait until the summer to make an appointment and that may yet be a shrewd move. Few managers would want to tarnish themselves and be the one that had the relegation on the CV. Eric Black, the caretaker, best get comfortable, before the new manager hopefully finally has a chance to rebuild.