Let's be honest here, Tottenham Hotspur need to come up with big with their next hire. Names like Mauricio Pochettino, Frank de Boer, and Roberto Martinez might be fashionable, but they won't come cheaply. Why wouldn't Spurs look at a reasonably successful manager who is out of contract this summer? Enter Rémi Garde.
Rémi Garde, Olympique Lyonnais manager (until June 3)
Career Record: Garde has managed Lyon since June of 2011 and in that time has gone 61-26-31 (51.28% or 1.76 points per match). That's it. That's the only club he's managed. Now, that doesn't mean he's totally inexperienced as a manager. He was Lyon's assistant manager from 2003-2011, which, if you recall, was smack dab in the middle of their run of seven consecutive Ligue 1 titles. Garde served as the number two for Claude Puel, Paul le Guen, Gerard Houllier, and Alain Perrin before getting handed the top job.
Accomplishments: Garde has two trophies to his name as a manager. The Coupe de France and the Trophee des Champions. The latter is France's version of the Community Shield, so take that for what you will. As an assistant he saw Lyon win 11 other titles. So success isn't exactly foreign to this guy. As a player he won Ligue 2 with Lyon. He also won several trophies in the Premier League too.
Before he was a football manager: Garde was a defensive midfielder and sweeper for Lyon in the late eighties and early nineties. He helped the club secure promotion to Ligue 1 and made 145 appearances for the club. He then moved to Strasbourg for a few seasons we he helped the club win an Intertoto Cup (*fart noise*). Now, here's where you're going to immediately reject this guy. In 1996, at the age of 30, Garde moved from France to.......Arsenal. He joined on the same day as a guy named Patrick Vieira. In three years on the red side of North London Garde played in 30 matches. He retired from football in 1999.
After his playing career ended, he spent time as a football pundit, before returning to Lyon as assistant manager in 2003. He was known for being one of the better talent evaluators in all of France and he had a heavy amount of input on transfer signings with Sporting Director Bernard Lacombe and Club President Jean-Michel Aulas. In 2010 he became the director of Lyon's famed youth academy and in 2011 he was finally handed the reigns to the first-team.
Tactical analysis: Do you want tactical flexibility? Because Garde has tactical flexibility. This season alone, Garde and Lyon have used five different tactical formations. And that's just what they used to start matches. Garde primarily plays a 4-4-2 or 4-1-4-1. The 4-4-2 traditionally features a diamond midfield with Maxim Gonalons as the holder and Clement Grenier as the attacking midfielder. The other two midfielders are given more license to roam. These season, with much more attacking talent on the wings, Garde has adapted to occasionally play a 4-2-3-1, though his team was more successful using the diamond.
Garde's teams tend to play possession football and, as one of the most technically skilled sides in Ligue 1, they don't tend to meet much resistance. Where Garde's team struggles this year was getting shots inside the box. Sound familiar? Now, this is easily explainable. The club's best striker Bafetimbi Gomis spent most of the first few months of the season on the sideline either injured or being a malcontent. Sound familiar? When he returned to the team, he was excellent and a real aerial threat in the box. His teams like to press high up the pitch, but he's never really had the most disciplined players to work with, so the press hasn't always worked well. Lots of his attackers are pretty lax in their defensive duties and don't like to track back. Imagine a band of three attacking midfielders that put in the same amount of defensive effort as Rafael van der Vaart and you've got a rough approximation of what Garde has been working with.
Here's the major bad thing about Garde's Lyon teams. The number of individual errors that their defenders make is staggering. You think it's rough watching Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches screw around at the back, then I challenge you to watch a couple of matches Milan Bisevac and Samuel Umtiti. It's a freaking horror show. Lyon consistently have an excellent attack but the individual errors at the back have cost them so many points. Now, maybe this means that Garde is just a big picture guy, that he's not drilling the team on their concentration, positioning, etc. I honestly believe it's a product of him having such a young and inexperienced team. However, you can certainly see that he's not a defensive taskmaster.
This guy sucks; why is he on the list?: I mean, yeah. This guy sounds like Tim Sherwood, right? Former academy director, lots of individual errors in defense, etc. Plus, he's a former Arsenal player. Honestly, he's on the list because he's one of the better managers in France and is certainly a reasonable hire for Spurs. As someone who watches a lot of Ligue 1, there's not a lot of great coaching talent in the league, especially now that Rudi Garcia has left for Roma. Garde and Garcia's replacement and Lille, René Girard, are probably the two best managers in France (not counting the recently appointed Marcelo Bielsa).
For me though, the big draw for Garde is his development of young players. Say what you will about Sherwood, but he through young guys (or at least Nabil Bentaleb) out there and let them learn. Garde's Lyon team had nine players under the age of 23 make at least 10 appearances. Some of those players made huge impacts. As a former academy director, Garde understands what young players need to develop. Tottenham have a pretty great crop of young guys right now and I can almost guarantee that Garde would not only utilize them, but utilize them in the way that best showcases their ability.
Would he come to Tottenham?: Ah, well, here's the problem. Garde isn't renewing his contract with Lyon for personal and family reasons. He hasn't said what they are, but he has said that he intends to take some time off and not return to the bench for a little while. There seems to be some question as to whether the decision is, in any way, linked with having to work with the notoriously difficult Jean-Michel Aulas, but it's not clear what the answer is. Garde himself has said that coaching, particularly management, makes being with his family difficult and one can only imagine that move to London wouldn't make that easier.
Now, assuming for a minute that these personal/family reasons are either a fabrication to avoid Aulas or that they would not be a barrier to him coming to Spurs, then I don't see a reason why he wouldn't be interested in the job. His Arsenal ties are going to be enough for some people to hate him immediately, but Sherwood was an Arsenal fan, Andre Villas-Boas worked at Chelsea, and Harry Redknapp used to manage West Ham. Clearly things like that aren't a factor in Daniel Levy's decision-making. Garde would be cheap -- much cheaper than any of the other managers we've profiled so far -- but personal reasons might keep him out of a managerial job for a year or two.
Final thoughts: I put Garde's name forward for this list before he announced he wouldn't be renewing his contract with Lyon, but even then he was a longshot to get the job. In three seasons his teams have finished fourth, third, and, this season, fifth. He's won a couple of cup competitions, but not had a whole lot of success in Europe (26-9-9) with this best finish being the last 16 of the 2011/12 Champions League (or the quarterfinals of this season's Europa League, whichever you think is more impressive). Garde, before taking a break, had next to no shot at being manager of Tottenham Hotspur, but his skills both as a talent evaluator and talent developer warrant some consideration. If nothing else, Tottenham seem to have a vacancy in their academy and maybe that position would be allow Garde to spend the time with his family that he desires.