In late March 1916, the battle between the British and Ottoman empires for control of the town of Kut in southern Iraq was reaching its deadly conclusion with the Ottomans eventually breaking the Brits and gaining control of the garrison. Known as the Siege of Kut, it would later be described as the most abject capitulation in British military history. On April 29, exactly 147 days after it started the battle drew to close with over 40,000 dead or wounded and another 13,000 British troops captured. The impact of those 147 days was felt across the British Empire, which took years to recover from.
100 years later, Aston Villa finds themselves facing a similar recovery time after going through their own 147 day war. When Remi Garde took over 147 days ago, he was pitched as the savior of the club, the man destined to turn its fortunes around and save it from its biggest threat – relegation. Yesterday the Frenchman departed from the club by mutual consent with Villa all but relegated and left in disarray. It wouldn’t be fair to blame Garde for the mess that has been left behind as his responsibilities were firmly on the battle and not the garrison, which has sadly been poorly managed from the top down.
Owner Randy Lerner has made more than a few miscalculated moves over the past few years including several key appointments like Tom Fox as Chief executive and Hendrik Almstad as Sporting Director. Both arrived from Arsenal with the promise of bringing exciting football to the midlands but their failures have been yet another black mark on the clubs recent history. Poor signings in the summer along with bad management of assets has left Villa facing years of upheaval in order to return to where they once were. Lerner, who has publicly stated his wish to sell the club must take a majority of the blame but like most foreign owners in similar situations has decided to stay away viewing from afar as the club continues to tumble. Now faced with near certain defeat though, Lerner has decided to wave the white flag and has begun the process of transforming what remains into a resemblance of a club.
Out went Fox and Almstad in favour of more accomplished football men. West Midlands businessman Steve Hollis arrived as chairman whilst former FA chief David Bernstein and villa legend Brian Little have joined a football board. After these appointments, it was only a matter of time before Remi Garde was shown the door with the view that an Englishman (or at least a Brit) should replace him. Nigel Pearson, Sean Dyche and Steve Bruce are all attractive options whilst David Moyes appears to be the glamour card if they can entice him to manage the club in the Championship next year. Whether any of these men will have better luck than Garde had will be dependent on how much control they are granted. Garde had little to no say in transfers and was unable to bring in players during the January window, which he felt could have made the difference. That was under the Fox administration granted but ultimately he has operating as a puppet of Lerner who holds the power and more importantly the cash. Garde departs a broken man, defeated by his return to English football as a manager. He will return after a short break to another club to show how good a manager he can be if he is given full control of the garrison.
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