By James Felipe
A distinct climate change this week at Villa Park as a transitional and optimistic week saw a new manager in Rémi Garde, a 0-0 with the league leaders and the re-emergence of Ashley Young’s replacement the 29-year-old Frenchman Charles N’Zogbia, Remember him?
The shining light of Remi
Rémi Garde brought a refreshing approach to in-game management which we didn’t see under Tim Sherwood this season. A well-orchestrated defence, flamboyance in midfield and most importantly a well thought out starting XI.
Another observed point from Garde’s first game in charge was his willingness to listen and take in what his back room staff had to say, he seemed to be in conversation with Reginald Ray and Robert Duverne throughout. Before, I don’t think many Villa bystanders could really tell what Ray Wilkins was there to do. Or was it Tim Sherwood’s larger than life ego getting in the way of anything constructive coming from his staff?
You’ve heard of the expression ‘raining cats and dogs’. You’ve heard of the plague of frogs dropping from the sky on Egypt in the Bible (and perhaps also seen it rain frogs in the film Magnolia), but a football stadium filled with snakes? The return of ‘Fabian ‘Snake’ Delph, saw the sight of inflatable snakes backed by hissing in the Villa Park stands, as Delph made a cameo as a substitute from his new home on the City bench. Good work Villans!
The shields are finally up
The defensive display against Manchester City was something we haven’t seen in a while. In recent times our defensive shape has been snake-like and simply rogue. It was obvious to see what Garde and his staff have been working on prior to this game, SHAPE.
The back four were nothing short of solid. Hutton, Richards, Clark and Amavi looked like they’ve been playing together for years and not just thrown together for the first time in the Premier League. Carlos Sanchez put in a similar performance of which got every Villa fan excited when he played in the Copa America and kept Brazil’s Neymar quiet.
We’re wearing rain coats not woollen jumpers
The starting XI we’ve all been waiting for as fans, finally took the field (what a time to be alive!). After months of watching Sherwood continuously ignore the new signings, which he declared “wasn’t his”, we finally got to see our new summer signings forming the basis of the team and their performances showed that perhaps the previous Villa manager had indeed wasted their talents.
Villa showed composure and confidence on the ball as the likes of Veretout, Gil and Sanchez swept the ball around the Man City midfield. The problem we seemed to face and have faced all season was breaking the opposition defence down and giving the goalkeeper something to think about. Three off-target shots is not what you want to see from a home team, however when you’re up against the league leaders, it’s all about not conceding first.
Not many people can say they are a fan of international break, but this is being seen as timely blessing for everyone involved at Villa Park. Garde will have two weeks to get his message and initial philosophy over to his players left at Bodymour Heath, without the distraction and pressures of upcoming Premier League fixture. The results of the scan on Jordan Amavi’s international break injury will also be something that could affect the climate at Villa in the short-term. Fingers crossed for him.
Club Temperature: 2°
Before the Manchester City game and Rémi Garde appointment, the temperature at Villa Park was certainly sub-zero, with our great club rapidly completely freezing over. Things still aren’t perfect for anyone right now, but hopefully after the international break we can see a clear playing style and players growing in confidence now they’re actually being picked. Despite this week’s thaw, there’s a degree drop in temperature due to the recent news of Jordan Amavi’s injury.
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