Remi Garde needs to produce something special to get Aston Villa out of trouble
Published 03/11/2015 | 16:41
As a player Remi Garde was dependable but never astonishing. Aston Villa need something special from him now.
The new Villa boss returns to England after 16 years away with the side bottom of the Barclays Premier League - a world away from the familiarity of France.
He was born in L'Arbresle, also the birthplace of French composer Claude Terrasse, and began his career at Lyon.
The defensive midfielder played for the club for six years after breaking into the first team at 22 and helped them to promotion to Ligue 1 in 1989.
Garde won six caps for France between 1990 and 1992, making his debut in a friendly against Kuwait, and was part of France's Euro 92 squad under Michel Platini.
They qualified with a 100 per cent record but crashed out at the group stage, with Garde not playing a single minute at the finals in Sweden. A year after his Euro disappointment he joined Strasbourg.
Garde then moved to Arsenal on the same day as Patrick Vieira - following the recommendation of boss-in-waiting Arsene Wenger - in 1996 and went on to make 45 appearances for the Gunners, although he never played more than 11 league games in a season.
Despite this, Garde won the title with Arsenal in 1998, although he was left out of their FA Cup final-winning squad against Newcastle that year.
He only made one appearance in the Gunners' successful cup run - in the quarter-final replay against West Ham. It finished 1-1 after extra time and Arsenal won 4-3 on penalties, with Garde missing for the Gunners in the shoot-out.
After retiring in 1999 he became assistant to Paul Le Guen at Lyon and helped them to titles in 2003-04 and 2004-05 before becoming Gerard Houllier's right-hand man between 2005-07 and then manager himself in 2011.
Lyon finished fourth, third and fifth under the 49-year-old in Ligue 1 but did win the Coupe de France in 2012 - their first piece of silverware since 2008 - before the manager left in 2014. "The reasons are personal and family. I feel the need to take a break," he said at the time.
During his time he earned plaudits for Lyon's style, a fluid 4-3-1-2 system which allowed the full-backs to push on - something which should suit Villa.
PSG's growing financial clout made it difficult for Garde but w hile in France, he managed Hugo Lloris, selling him to Tottenham in 2012, Bafetimbi Gomis, Kim Kallstrom and Dejan Lovren. Under Garde, Gomis scored 54 goals in three seasons before joining Swansea in 2014.
Perhaps his greatest find was Anthony Martial. The teenager - bought by Manchester United for a reported £58million from Monaco in the summer - was spotted by Garde's chief scout, Gerard Bonneau, when he was academy manager at Lyon.
He planned a gentle integration for Martial - something which is likely to benefit Villa's youngsters - and eventually gave him his debut as a 16-year-old before the forward joined Monaco in 2013 for 5million euros - a move which Garde tried to block but Lyon needed the money.
He returns to management with Villa desperate to survive and Garde has never been in this position as a manager. He has been backed by Wenger and Houllier to succeed, a hint of the esteem he is held in, but he must dig them out of a huge hole.
Garde has patience and faith in youngsters and his style - along with Villa's summer recruitment from France - will be greatly valued at Villa Park. They need stability before success.