Remi Garde wants Aston Villa to shore up at the back
Remi Garde insists Aston Villa's desire to defend properly must improve if they are to have any chance of Barclays Premier League survival.
Tired of his side's frailties at the back, the Villa boss made big changes against Everton on Tuesday night. He brought Brad Guzan back in goal and also recalled Micah Richards and Ciaran Clark to play alongside Joleon Lescott in a central defensive trio as part of a 3-5-3 formation, but it was to no avail.
Garde's plans went out the window after only five minutes when Ramiro Funes Mori lost Richards and powered home a header unmarked from a corner.
Goals from Aaron Lennon and Romelu Lukaku extended Everton's lead before substitute Rudy Gestede headed a late consolation for Villa, who despite another defeat remain eight points adrift of safety.
"I thought the shape would fit better to give them problems, but we couldn't have made a worse start," said Garde, who refused to single out individuals despite Richards' error.
"U nfortunately we conceded a goal from a set-piece very early. Then the plan is difficult to hold. We had to change a little bit. But conceding the second goal close to the first one also wasn't the best situation we wanted, of course.
"In football, 30 per cent of goals are scored in set-pieces. This is part of the game. I don't want to blame any one player. We all have to do better.
"We conceded an early goal against (Manchester) City in the cup, one against Liverpool was at a set-piece and another one here (against Everton).
"Sometimes I think the way you defend at set-pieces and the commitment you put at set-pieces is very important. It's not a question of tactics, it's the desire to clear the ball."
Everton boss Roberto Martinez admitted Villa's change of system took him by surprise, and he welcomed Funes Mori's early goal.
"I thought they were very clever in trying to use a different formation," said Martinez.
"The way we adapted and kept our concentration and were clinical up front helped us."
The game at Villa Park was Everton's first following the news of Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri's investment in the club. While an exciting new era awaits the Merseysiders, Villa, meanwhile, look destined for relegation to the Sky Bet Championship.
Martinez hopes they can find their way back, saying: " This is the most competitive league in world football. It can happen to everyone.
"I have been following Aston Villa for a very long time now and they have been very unfortunate in many games. I didn't see a team with no fight or desire.
"When you concede two goals it's hard to overcome but this is a really strong competition.
"You just want Aston Villa to get back to the glory days that they used to have. They are a traditional club in British football and you want them to do really well."