Belfast Telegraph

Aston Villa begin search for third manager of term following Remi Garde's exit

Aston Villa are looking for their third manager of the season after Remi Garde's long-awaited exit was confirmed late on Tuesday evening.

The former Lyon boss won just twice in 20 Barclays Premier League games since replacing Tim Sherwood and leaves Villa staring relegation to the second tier in the face.

Garde had been on the brink of leaving for a couple of weeks with Villa 12 points from safety ahead of Saturday's visit of Chelsea.

The 49-year-old also held lengthy talks with new board member David Bernstein earlier this month.

Press Association Sport understands Garde did not leave Villa's training ground until close to 9pm on Tuesday after lawyers thrashed out the terms of his settlement, meaning the announcement came during England's international friendly with Holland.

"Manager Remi Garde has today left Aston Villa Football Club by mutual consent," said a club statement.

"The club would like to place on record its sincere thanks to Remi for all his efforts during a difficult period and wish him well in the future.

"Eric Black will take over as acting manager until the club appoints a new manager.

"There will be no further comment from the club at this stage."

Garde had been left disillusioned by a lack of backing in the transfer market having failed to land any new signings in January. He wanted Loic Remy and Croatian goalkeeper Lovre Kalinic while he lost out on Seydou Doumbia and Wahbi Khazri to relegation rivals Newcastle and Sunderland respectively.

He also struggled to win over some of the current players with his training methods and often refused to defend them in public as their performances and commitment were questioned.

Former Leicester boss Nigel Pearson quickly emerged as an early favourite with bookmakers to be the next Villa manager, with David Moyes, without a club since losing his job at Real Sociedad in November, also in the running.

One man that is not in the frame is Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill, who laughed off suggestions he could return to his former club following Garde's departure.

The 64-year-old's contract with the Football Association of Ireland expires after Euro 2016 and he is yet to agree an extension.

However, when he was asked about the vacancy following Ireland's 2-2 friendly draw with Slovakia on Tuesday evening, O'Neill - who managed Villa between 2006 and 2010 - said with a smile: "I have a job to do here. I am delighted with the job. How dare you ask me?"

O'Neill's assistant Roy Keane at one point combined his job as the Republic's number two with a similar post under Paul Lambert at Villa, but asked if he could be a candidate, O'Neill said equally light-heartedly: "Well, if he leaves tomorrow, I will be very disappointed."

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