Aston Villa are poised to sack their manager, Rémi Garde, within the next 24 hours.
The Frenchman has looked like a dead man walking for several weeks and is understood to be keen to step down, pending agreement on his pay-off after five months in charge.
Nigel Pearson and Steve Bruce are names in the frame to replace the 49-year-old, who has overseen just two wins in 20 Premier League matches since his appointment on 2 November, though Bruce’s Birmingham City connections make him a less likely candidate.
Villa are understood to be in no rush to hire a full-time replacement as they begin planning for next season in the Championship. Either Garde’s No 2, Eric Black, or the Under-21s coach, Kevin MacDonald, is likely to stand in as caretaker.
Villa’s relegation is all but a mathematical certainty as they sit nine points adrift at the foot of the table after suffering a sixth straight defeat at Swansea City on Saturday.
Villa’s new chairman, Steve Hollis, has been busily restructuring the club since his arrival in January and last week both Hendrik Almstadt, the sporting director, and chief executive, Tom Fox, departed. Hollis has already assembled a new-look board, including former Football Association chairman David Bernstein and ex-Bank of England governor Mervyn King, and featuring the know-how of Brian Little, the former Villa player and manager, in an advisory capacity.
Hollis refused to offer Garde any assurances on Friday when asked about his place in the club’s plans for next season. “It’s a board who are doing this review and it’s the board that will make the decisions and communicate when it’s ready,” he said.
When Garde, the former Arsenal midfielder and Lyons coach, took over from Tim Sherwood, Villa were four points beneath the team in 17th place. However, a man with no prior experience of English football management has failed to arrest the team’s decline, taking just 12 points from a possible 60.
The Frenchman has not been helped by the club’s failure to provide reinforcements in the January transfer window, but has looked increasingly like a broken man in recent weeks amid rumours of a dressing-room rift between senior players and last summer’s influx from abroad. His departure now would be the football equivalent of a mercy killing.
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