New Aston Villa boss Remi Garde hails influence of Arsene Wenger on his managerial career

The ex-Lyon manager spent three seasons playing under his fellow Frenchman at Arsenal between 1996 and 1999.

New Aston Villa boss Remi Garde has told AVTV how playing under Arsene Wenger at Arsenal inspired him to go into management.

Garde, who signed a three-and-a-half-year deal at Villa on Monday to replace the sacked Tim Sherwood, was one of Wenger’s first signings at Arsenal in 1996, joining the club from Strasbourg on the same day as fellow Frenchman Patrick Vieira.

Aged 30 at the time, the ex-international did not prove a regular starter, as he went on to make 43 appearances for the club over the next few seasons before retiring in June 1999 due to persistent knee injuries, but he did make a big impression off the pitch thanks to his experience and knowledge of the game.

Labelled a virtual player-coach, the former defensive midfielder eventually began his managerial career at Lyon in 2011 after working through the ranks of the Ligue 1 side, and under tight financial restrictions, won the French Cup and achieved a top three finish during his three seasons in charge.

He admits that much of his success at the Stade de Gerland was down to the lessons he had learned under Wenger, and having kept in touch with the Gunners boss since their time together in north London, believes he might not have had the chance to come to Villa were it not for his compatriot’s influence.

“First of all, playing in England was a huge thing for me because football is quite different here,” he told AVTV. “It was a long time ago, but for me, it was a wonderful experience. I learned a lot, but especially under Arsene Wenger.

“I had a lot of conversations with him and maybe because I worked with him I thought I could be a manager. He inspired me because we have some things in common. I don’t have the same experience but I feel we have the same personality.

“I really enjoyed my time with him and I had a chat with him a few days ago [about joining Villa].”

In addition, Garde, who opted to leave Lyon following the 2013-14 season, also sought the advice of Gerard Houllier before taking the Villa job, having been the former claret and blue manager’s assistant at Les Gones between 2005 and 2007.

He even visited Houllier when he was in charge of Villa during the 2010-11 campaign and, like with Wenger, has kept in contact with him since beginning his own managerial career.

"Looking back it was very nice working with Gerard,” added Garde on the ex-Liverpool chief. "It was good because Gerard is a huge manager. He has a lot of experience - with the national team and every situation in football.

"We had a spell together at Lyon and then we never lost contact. Of course when he spoke to me about Aston Villa it was all positive.

"He told me 'go on, it's a difficult situation currently but it's a big club with people who will work for you'. He told me they were very supportive so 'go, go.'"

Garde’s first game in charge of Villa will be Sunday’s visit of Premier League leaders Manchester City, before he takes his new side to Everton on 21 November following the international break.

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