Blaming Aston Villa's plight on a failed French revolution is misguided

Trinity Road Stand - Aston Villa

Villa's French summer influx may not have gone exactly to plan, but it's not the reason the club is in this mess.

In light of the report that Aston Villa's contingent of signings from France are likely to lead the mass exodus at the club this summer, it is being suggested in some areas that the club's recruitment policy of focusing on bringing in established and emerging talent from the French Ligue 1 is a primary reason for the club's decline.

The strategy was undoubtedly a brave one. Under previous manager Tim Sherwood, the Birmingham club's four most expensive summer signings were all brought in from across the English Channel.

Jordan Ayew arrived from Lorient, midfielder Jordan Veretout and Idrissa Gana were brought in after impressing for Nantes and Lille respectively, and hotly-tipped young left-back Jordan Amavi was signed from Nice.

It was a risky approach, and one which struggled to pay off immediately; Ayew failed to score in his first two-and-a-half months, Veretout played just five times in the league before November, and Gana looked unsure and unsteady in his early days in English football.

Of the new arrivals, only Amavi hit the ground running - the left-back looked a top-class full-back in the making in his 12 appearances in all competitions, and missed just two of the club's first 12 league matches before suffering a season-ending ankle injury on international duty for France's Under-21s side.

Admittedly, it could be argued that a slow beginning to life in England from the majority of the arrivals from France was a factor in Villa's poor start to the season, but it was hardly the stand-alone reason.

Sherwood's tactical failings - at best naivety, at worst ineptitude - cost Villa dearly in the opening months of the campaign, never more so than when he sacrificed a 2-0 lead at Leicester City in September through bizarre substitutions.

Rudy Gestede, the only target man signed with the money from the sale of previous spearhead Christian Benteke, has netted just five times in the league all season, goals punctuated by gaps of seven weeks, three-and-a-half months, and six weeks.

Previously-established first-team players such as Gabriel Agbonlahor, Jack Grealish, and Ashley Westwood have failed to perform to an acceptable level, whilst experienced defensive signings Micah Richards and Joleon Lescott have done little to tighten up the backline.

Then there has been the off-field turmoil, the accumulation of years of financial mismanagement, poor managerial choices, and general boardroom apathy all coming to a head in dramatic and crippling fashion.

Meanwhile, the appointment of Frenchman Remi Garde as Sherwood's successor at the start of November coincided with an upturn in form for the non-injured trio of signings from France.

Jordan Ayew had scored his first goals for the club in Sherwood's final two league matches in charge, and added three more before the end of 2015 as well as generally beginning to shine with his creative endeavour and support play, and he remains the club's top scorer in the Premier League this season.

Though the Ghanaian has since gone off the boil, the level of performance from Veretout and Gana has undoubtedly improved under Garde, and though inconsistent, both are clearly fine players.

The quartet deserve moves away from the club this summer, although Villa fans will hope that a good consequence of Amavi's extended absence is that he will not find himself so in-demand, and may still want to prove himself in England.

If anything, the Ligue 1 contingent's performances this campaign have, at least on an irregular basis, been some of the brightest sparks of an otherwise catastrophic season, and it is perhaps apparent why that strategy in the transfer market was utilised.

As it is, however, if and when they leave it is likely that the French experiment of last summer will be written off as a total failure, something which will serve as a rather unfair narrative of this most desperate of Villa seasons.

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