When Remi Garde left his position as Aston Villa manager in March 2016, his managerial reputation was in tatters.
The 51-year-old Frenchman won just two of his 20 league matches in charge of the Villans, which culminated a win percentage of just 10%. It’s the lowest of any Aston Villa manager in the club’s history.
Yet, his unveiling as Montreal Impact’s fifth head coach in seven years is still quite a coup for the Canadian outfit and for the MLS in general.
Before his disastrous spell at Villa Park, Garde had worked up a rather impressive CV. As a player he won at least one trophy at every club he played for- including a Premier League title with Arsenal in 1997-98.
The former Lyon, Strasbourg and Gunners midfielder also saw success follow him in his early coaching career.
Garde took over from the dismissed Claude Puel at Lyon in 2011. During his time in charge of Les Gones he won two trophies – the Coupe de France and Trophèe des champions.
This resulted in him being linked to some of the biggest jobs in football – including a possible return to the Emirates to replace his mentor Arsene Wenger.
Whilst his ill-fated tenure at Villa has probably seen that opportunity fade away for Garde, the manager’s job at the Villans was at the time a poisoned chalice.
The club were rooted to the bottom of the Premier League, and the players at the club lacked the desire the 51-year-old demanded. A promise of January signings by Randy Lerner never materialised into nothing more than false pretences. You could therefore say that he had no chance of turning the fortunes of the club around.
It may surprise some that he’s decided to move halfway across the world for his new managerial venture at Montreal, but his appointment may prove to be shrewd bit of business by owner Joey Saputo.
The main issue will be the longevity of this partnership between Garde and Impact.
Montreal have a reputation in the MLS to hire and fire head coaches on a consistent basis. The 51-year-old becomes the franchises’ fifth in just seven seasons, and may need to get off to a strong start in order to keep the board happy.
On the other hand, the temptation and the glamour of European football could sway Garde back across the Atlantic Ocean should he do well in Canada. He only lasted at Lyon for three years before leaving for family reasons. Neither party likes to overstay their welcome.
The Frenchman is another recognisable manager to have joined the MLS in recent seasons as the league’s appeal continues to gradually grow. Former Barcelona and Argentina boss Tata Martino became head coach at Atlanta United last year, with Bob Bradley returning to the league to take charge at new franchise Los Angeles FC.
Garde has had all winter to prepare his team ahead of their opener against Vancouver Whitecaps this weekend. A key signing he has brought in is that of former Inter Milan midfielder Saphir Taïder to help bolster the midfield.
Last year was one to forget for Impact, with a ninth place finish in the Eastern Conference and 17th overall. But if Garde can find that formula that saw him win trophies with Lyon, he could make this Montreal side a real force in the league and regular post-season contenders.
Something that will surely have a positive impact on his dented managerial career and help him recover that early reputation of being one of the best in the business.