Idrissa Gana already impressed by new Aston Villa coach Eric Black

The former Birmingham City assistant manager and Coventry City boss joined Remi Garde's backroom staff earlier this week.

While Eric Black has only been at Aston Villa for a few days, the new first-team coach has already made a positive impression on midfielder Idrissa Gana.

Black, who played under Sir Alex Ferguson at Aberdeen, joined Villa on Tuesday after leaving his post as Neil Redfearn’s No. 2 at Rotherham United, where he had a one-game spell as caretaker boss in October following Steve Evans’ exit.

The 52-year-old Scot previously managed Motherwell and Coventry City before becoming Steve Bruce’s assistant at Birmingham in 2004 and had further stints working with the now-Hull boss at Wigan Athletic and Sunderland.

More significantly for Gana, he also speaks French after spending five seasons playing for Metz between 1986 and 1991, and the £9 million summer signing from Lille has relished their first few training sessions together.

Speaking to AVTV, the Senegal international said: “It’s very good to work with him because he speaks French and English, so it’s good for all the players. He brings an English spirit – that’s what we needed.”

Nevertheless, Gana is not using Black’s bilingual capabilities as an excuse to ease off on his efforts to learn English, adding: “It’s important for the integration of the team to speak English. The coaches speak English all the time so if you don’t understand English you don’t understand some rules. We have to learn English. It’s important for me and the team.”

Gana has made 22 total appearances for Villa since signing from Lille in the summer and been an ever-present in the Premier League under Remi Garde following the Frenchman’s appointment as Tim Sherwood successor in November.

The 26-year-old also scored his first goal for the club in last week’s 2-0 FA Cup third round replay win over Wycombe Wanderers and seems to have recovered from a mid-season slump with some industrious performances during the team's current five-match unbeaten run.

"It’s exciting but very hard because of the results," he told AVTV of his time in the Midlands so far. "I’m happy to be here and happy to play for Aston Villa, and I try to do my best because it’s such a big club.

"Now it’s difficult because we are on the bottom [of the table], but we are fighting and won't give up trying to stay in the Premier League."

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