The stampede by many Newcastle fans to embrace the idea of Remi Garde being the new head coach is understandable.
After the Pardew years it isn’t any wonder that we all hope for somebody who can bring new ideas and inspire this group of players to a different level, while at the same time having a major input (despite what we are told) in transfers in and out.
Sky Sports reported yesterday that the former Lyon manager was somebody who had now been interviewed by Newcastle for the vacant job.
Well first of all I think you do have to wonder why Garde voluntarily withdrew from football management for personal reasons at the end of last season. Might be something that doesn’t affect at all his potential to be successful elsewhere, but to leave a club where to us it looks at face value he was a success AND not take up a job elsewhere, well it does leave that question mark.
However, when a foreign name comes up, either as a potential player or manager/head coach, then there is really no excuse these days for not getting ALL of the facts, or at least the stats, on their background and record.
First of all, Marseille is easily the best supported club in France, then you have Lyon and PSG on pretty much level pegging, both are said to have around 11% of French football supporters backing each of the clubs. Another thing to take into account is that the French league has nowhere near the depth of the Premier League, once you get beyond the handful of clubs at the top, then competition is very limited – Lyon were one of only five clubs to average attendances of over thirty thousand last season and thirteen clubs had less than twenty thousand watching them week in week out.
However, the best guide to how Remi Garde did in his three years at Lyon is surely to look at recent history and to see what the normal expectations are at this particular club.
A bit like if Ronald Koeman could produce three top five placings at Southampton then he would be seen as a miracle worker, whereas if he’d got the job at Old Trafford it would be seen as the bare minimum.
Listed below are the last 14 seasons detailing where Lyon finished in Ligue 1, the last three seasons are when Remi Garde was in charge.
Lyon Ligue 1 Placings
As you will see, in the eleven years before Remi Garde took over, Lyon never finished outside the top three; winning 7 titles, runner-up twice and ‘only’ third on two occasions.
In this context surely third is the bare minimum you could have expected from the manager that followed and that fourth and fifth finishes are in reality failure for a club such as Lyon, especially when only the top three in France qualify for the Champions League.
While Garde didn’t have a great deal of money to spend and had certain players sold out of financial necessity, he still had a very talented bunch of players to work with, certainly by the French league’s standard – the likes of Lovren, Lloris, Gourcuff, Lacazette, Grenier and others.
My argument isn’t that we should definitely not be going for Remi Garde, but to accept that he hasn’t got a long or very successful track record, and certainly isn’t some kind of miracle worker that could/would transform Newcastle United’s fortunes without massive support, financial backing on the squad and a decent amount of luck.
In case you’re wondering what happened at Lyon after Remi Garde left?
Hubert Fournier took over after doing well at Reims, where he got them promoted to Ligue 1 after an absence of 33 years and stabilised them in mid-table last season.
Finances dictated that the new Lyon manager didn’t have money to play with and spent under £3m in the transfer market, so basically having to do what he can with the same group of players Remi Garde had to work with.
Last season Lyon finished the campaign 28 points off the top of the table, so what about under Hubert Fournier?
Well Lyon currently sit at the very top of Ligue 1 with over the half the season gone, maybe it is Hubert Fournier that Mike Ashley should be breaking the bank to attract…
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