Former Aston Villa great Paul McGrath delivered a scathing assessment of the beleaguered club’s board and players as he reacted to the news of Remi Garde’s dismissal.
The former Lyon boss, who replaced Tim Sherwood in the Villa hot seat in November, has paid the price for a dismal season which sees the club rock bottom of the Premier League table, nine points adrift of their nearest rivals.
However, McGrath believes that the Villa vacancy was a poisoned chalice and that Garde faced an impossible task.
“I thought he walked into a spider’s web there and he’s got caught in it now,” the 56-year-old said in an impassioned interview on 2fm’s Game On.
“People might think he didn’t do his job, but I think he did the best job he could.”
Laying the blame for Villa’s current travails squarely on the players and the board, McGrath said: “I don’t think the players are giving any manager who walks in there the respect that they deserve and Remi was just one of those people who got caught up in the web.
“They don’t respect the club they’re playing for and that’s the problem.
“Aston Villa is a massive club. We’ve got a massive fan base, we’ve got people around there who are willing to support them, they come every week if they give them something to watch. The saddest thing for me is that the supporters are the people who have to pay for it now.”
“They gave me a second chance. No one wanted me at that stage."
McGrath’s echoed the sentiments of many Villa fans as he reflected on American owner Randy Lerner’s stewardship of the club.
“I put it down to the board,” McGrath said. “I think it’s about money. I think it’s about an American guy coming in and thinking it’s a business.”
The former defender, who won 83 caps for the Republic of Ireland, enjoyed a renaissance at Aston Villa that culminated in him winning the PFA Players’ Player of the Year Award in 1993 – one of only three Ireland players to ever do so.
Explaining why his passion for the club runs so deeply, McGrath, in a brutal self-assessment, revealed: “They gave me a second chance. No one wanted me at that stage. When I left Manchester United I was one of the worst players anyone could have ever took on.”
While the future for Villa looks most grim, McGrath is full of optimism on the prospect of Ireland as they prepare for the Euro 2016 this summer and championed the cause of one player in particular.
“Hoolahan, for me, is the man. He’s like a Juan Mata or a David Luiz. He’s a class act
“No one will want to play against us. Italy, Belgium or Sweden won’t want to play against us.”
Comparing the current side to the one that Giovanni Trapattoni presided over at Euro 2012, he added: “We’re much more of a cohesive team. I think we play better.”