Remi Garde was appointed this week as Aston Villa boss on a three and a half year deal after Randy Lerner decided the Frenchman was the man to lead Villa away from relegation.
He watched his new squad go down to a seventh straight league defeat against Tottenham at White Hart Lane, a result that leaves Villa bottom of the table and four points adrift of safety.
Some older Premier League fans will remember defensive midfielder Garde from his playing days at Arsenal, where he played 43 times under Arsene Wenger in his three season spell with the North London club. Although never a regular, he managed to amass the ten league appearances required to earn a winner’s medal in Arsenal’s double winning 1997/98 season.
The 49 year old, who won six caps for his country, was forced to retire from football in June 1999; and after a spell working as a pundit for French TV, joined the coaching staff at his first club Lyon in 2003. There he initially worked under Paul Le Guen, who managed Lyon to three consecutive Ligue 1 titles, including two while Garde was a coach.
A look at the career of former Arsenal player and Lyon manager, Remi Garde
When Le Guen moved on to his ill-fated spell at Scottish club Rangers, Garde was made assistant manager to his replacement, Gerard Houllier, who had previously managed Liverpool and later had a season in charge at Aston Villa. Houllier led Lyon to a further two titles, before he left in 2007. Garde became director of the training academy, before becoming manager of the club in June 2011 after serving his eight year apprenticeship.
By this stage Lyon were no longer the dominant force in Ligue 1, and Garde was forced to focus on cost-cutting and youth development rather than signing stars and winning trophies. In his three years at Lyon, stars such as Jeremy Toulalan, Kim Kallstrom, Hugo Lloris, Dejan Lovren and Michel Bastos all departed the Stade de Gerland. Garde brought through young stars such as Anthony Martial (who departed less than a season after his breakthrough for a mere €5 million) and current star player Alexandre Lacazatte. He nevertheless guided the club to three top five finishes and a French Cup before departing for personal reasons in 2014.
No doubt this ability to cut wage bills and achieve without splashing out on big transfer fees attracted Randy Lerner to Garde, with the American keen for his new manager to work with what he has available after reinvesting the majority of the millions gained from the Benteke and Delph deals in the current playing squad.
Four of Villa’s main signings came from Ligue 1, so should be familiar to Garde, and having a manager who speaks their mother tongue ought to help avoid confusion in tactical conversations, and aid any of those players who may have so far struggled to settle in England. If Villa are to get out of this predicament, it is probable the likes of Amavi, Ayew, Gueye and Veretout will have to make big contributions at some point. His three years spent in London will also stand him in good stead to communicate with the British players at Villa Park.
Ex-Villa boss Houllier certainly thinks his former protege has what it takes to get the Birmingham side out of the relegation mire, saying:
“Remi takes over and his first job is to get the confidence back into the players. I fully expect him to be a success in the Premier League”
“He speaks the English language and will get his ideas and philosophy across. His philosophy will be attack-minded, he likes to build from the back. “
Garde certainly seems to represent a gamble, having only coached in France and never been anywhere near a relegation dogfight. Is his attack minded philosophy suited to avoiding the drop in the English Premier League? The long-suffering Aston Villa fans will certainly hope so.