Next Newcastle manager: Arsene Wenger boy Remi Garde looks a good fit for Newcastle

Garde has been strongly linked with the vacancy at St James' Park

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The Independent Football

The first coming of Remi Garde proved underwhelming. Arriving at Arsenal alongside a tall, gangly, younger man as the first exhibits of the new team Arsene Wenger was to build he was swiftly overshadowed by his companion. Patrick Vieira turned out to be one of the Premier League’s first great players, Garde made a fleeting impression before returning to France.

That was nearly two decades ago. Garde is now reportedly on the brink of returning to these shores, as head coach (not manager) of Newcastle United. This time it is a paunchy businessman who could overshadow him, but Garde has experience of dealing with the Mike Ashley’s of this world having worked successfully under Jean-Michel Aulas at Lyon. He also retains the football intelligence that made him attractive to Wenger, and more useful in the latter’s early years at Highbury than his limited playing time suggests. Add his nationality – a bonus at such a Gallic-accented club – and Garde could be the right man for Newcastle. 

He ought certainly be persuaded by the managerless Magpies’ performance at Stamford Bridge to believe there is something to work with on Tyneside, for all Ashley’s financial restraints. True, Moussa Sissoko, Newcastle’s leading player this season, may soon be sold, but there are other talents at the club.  In the first half Remy Cabella, given a rare league start, was outstanding, there is ability in Ayoze Perez, Yoan Gouffran and Jack Colback, and some good young players emerging from a revitalised academy. The defence is competent, albeit porous under strong pressure. The squad is not strong enough to challenge for a title, it never will be under Ashley, but it is capable of playing attractive, attacking football in the Newcastle tradition. Garde, still a Wenger disciple, could deliver that.

 

A 30-minute first-half burst of flair was not enough, however, to earn a win-double over Chelsea on Saturday because Newcastle failed to convert chances into goals. They then switched off when Chelsea won a corner and were undone by the quick-thinking of Willian and Branislav Ivanovic. Oscar scored and the game changed.

John Carver, Newcastle’s caretaker coach, was annoyed at that having specifically worked on the issue after United were undone by inattentiveness at a corner at Leicester in the FA Cup last week.

Carver said he had not spoken to Ashley, but been told by managing director Lee Charnley “to prepare the team for Chelsea and maybe [Saturday’s match against] Southampton”. The latter task may not be required as Charnley is thought to already have had talks with Garde in London last week. Garde is available having left Lyon last summer to spend time with his family after a disappointing third season.

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