As a disciple of Arsene Wenger and a former Arsenal player, it seems it is only a matter of time till Remi Garde is managing a club in the Premier League.
The newest team on the list, linked this weekend, is Aston Villa. Sitting rock-bottom in the league, they pulled the plug on Tim Sherwood and numerous names have been mentioned with taking over, but the Frenchman seems to be the front-runner.
One of the most watched football shows in France, Canal Football Club, broadcast on CanalPlus - who Garde often works for as part of their Premier League coverage - tweeted that they believed he would be the next man in charge at Villa Park.
Nothing has been confirmed or denied as of writing, but it has sparked the imagination of the Claret and Blue fans and has sent them scrawling for information on the former Lyon coach.
There is little doubt that the 49-year-old ticks all the boxes that Villa should be looking for, but there are still issues that exist.
In the summer, Villa went big and brought in a number of talented players from Ligue 1. The consensus from the fans is that Jordan Amavi and Idrissa Gueye have been the standout performers so far, with Jordan Ayew and Jordan Veretout needing time and games to give a real idea of how good they could possibly be for the club.
From his time playing for Arsenal, Garde knows what to expect from English culture and the league. Much has been made of his lack of Premier League experience, but you only have to look at the success of Jose Mourinho, Wenger, even Slaven Bilic, Mauricio Pochettino and Ronald Koeman. Good managers can excel anywhere, regardless of prior experience.
What will work in his favour, is his status within the game. He is not an unknown, perhaps someone like Jocelyn Gourvennec at Guingamp wouldn’t command the same respect. Garde was part of the Arsenal squad for three seasons, he played only 31 league games, but watched and experienced a lot of football in this country.
Garde’s reputation was enhanced in France due to his work in the Lyon youth system, highlighted even more after he left with the development of Alexandre Lacazette, Nabil Fekir and others.
Despite the increased wealth handed to the Premier League teams, bringing through youth is still important to a side like Villa, Garde’s past work will be a huge positive in hopefully getting the best out of players like Jack Grealish, Carles Gil and Adama Traore – but what will interest the club more is his football thinking and tactical ability.
Garde was the architect of the 4-4-2 diamond that Lyon, at their strongest, used last season and still fits the club’s needs under Hubert Fournier this season. In its simplistic form, it could work in the Premier League, but it’s not a system he is limited to.
His side was built on a strong, experienced defensive midfielder, two runners either side with different skills and attributes and a creative midfielder at its fulcrum. The two forwards that he played changed through his time at the club – from Bafetimbi Gomis, Lisandro Lopez to Alexandre Lacazette and then Nabil Fekir once he left.
Four very different players, but they all worked in the system. The full backs were allowed to attack and added the width, with the midfield three protecting the defence. He has also played 4-1-4-1 and 4-2-3-1 – all very similar depending on how you view tactics, but shows that he is versatile.
Garde is known to be interested, but there are issues that will need to be sorted before he could step into Sherwood’s gillet.
At this stage of the season, although Villa are only four points from safety, it is a very tough job to take. With one quarter of the season gone, you need to come in and implement your thoughts and ideals as quickly as possible – then the January transfer window will come quickly, with Garde expected to bring a few of his own names in.
One of the reported reasons that stopped Garde moving to Newcastle United last season was apparently Lyon’s reluctance to let coach Gérald Baticle leave the club to join him. French newspaper L’Equipe reported this weekend that both he and Bruno Genesio were wanted by Garde to make up his staff, with Lyon trying to hold strong once again.
It may be that Lyon allow one, rather than both to leave, and then it would be up to Garde to decide if he could still do the job. At some point, he will take a job in England, it is up to Villa to prove this is the right step for the man who still has his eye on Wenger’s seat at Arsenal.
The north-east may not have been up to his standards, and although the troubles and battles ahead are similar between all three clubs, living in the Midlands, England’s second city, could hold that appeal that Garde could find much more attractive.