Villa have endured a disastrous season, and many of their players seem to have thrown in the towel on their survival fight at this early stage.
The Midlands club are currently nine points away from safety, and they have been guilty of collapsing on numerous occasions.
Merson believes that Richards is one of the players who is still trying his hardest to get Villa out of trouble, and he has suggested that Garde should have put more faith in the defender to identify the troublemakers in the squad.
“About two months ago, he should have called Richards in and said to him - who can I rely on in this dressing room,” he said.
“Richards is an experienced player. He doesn’t want to be in on this. He’s played for successful teams.
“He should have been brought in and said ‘right, who’s the ones who are not committed’. And they should have got rid of them all.”
With Villa destined to be playing Championship next season, the future of the club is very much up in the air.
There looks set to be major change at Villa Park in the summer, and Garde looks likely to depart.
The Frenchman is reportedly already considering leaving the Midlands side, after a disastrous spell at the helm.
Villa have won just two league matches under Garde’s stewardship, and they have shown little signs that they could be about to make a miraculous recovery.