As I am writing this, Remi Garde is at Bodymoor Heath. I would like to think he is putting up sentimental pictures, décor and such in his new office, making it homely and slowly but surely devising a plan which will rebuild one of English football’s fallen greats.
It is a tough task, but all the cogs are there for him to rebuild Villa, allowing them to recover from a torrid decade and to get their place back in the top eight of the Premier League. The first team needs to be cleared out quickly. Stagnant players like Lescott, Hutton, Richardson and Senderos are old, bygone and dead wood. They were supposed to be stop-gaps but the constant merry-go-round of managers meant they’ve been often found in a starting eleven that has lacked continuity.
While Remi Garde may not have asked for Micah Richards, if his attitude is restrained and desire revitalized he can be turned into a good centre-half. Is he leader material? No way. Can he be a good filler until Garde spots a defender he likes? Definitely.
The introduction of Jordan Amavi this season is not a risk worth taking, as like most modern fullbacks, he’s very talented going forward but not adequate in the Premier League to defend. While this remains the case he is a problem. In midfield the situation is much less stressful. Goals have been infrequent at Villa Park, and one way to change this would be to build an attacking midfield around Jack Grealish, including Carles Gil and Jordan Veretout in a 4-3-3 formation. While this would lack defensive cover, it would certainly see an increase in the creation of chances.
In attack, a set-up of Gestede in the middle, with Sinclair/Adama and Ayew would do well, as this would provide good width and the aim should be to deliver the ball into Gestede. Gabby Agbonlahor is someone I have never been comfortable with, and I’ve rarely seen much quality from a man who has somehow made a record number of appearances for Villa. I would get him out of the club as soon as possible, as his morose attitude sums up the last ten years for Villa. He has never shown any contest or desire to stop the decline, being more than happy to collect his pay-cheque. He is not alone in this and it is an attitude that needs to be cut out.
Once Villa can start to solidify their position in the league, the introduction of several talented youngsters is key for Remi Garde, as this will build support from the Holte End. Easah Suliman, a 17 year-old centre back who has captained England at youth level could benefit from being in and around the first team, preparing him for a loan next year. Jerrel Sellars and Rushian-Hepburn are two young attackers that will be expected to break into the first team in the coming future, especially Sellars who is slowly coming to the crossroads in his young career that will decide where he will be playing his football. Andre Green is a player similar to Jack Grealish, having the ability to control the pace of the game, and any minutes afforded to him would be extremely beneficial; he is a highly technical winger who can also play in the middle, and much is spoken about him at Bodymoor.
This season is going to be a tough one for Remi Garde. He will experience a bulk of criticism, little praise, a tiny cheque- book and an expectant fan base. He needs to implement his policies and impose his personality upon Aston Villa, and he needs to do it sooner rather than later. No pressure.