It’s funny how life works sometimes.
Back in 2015, when Tim Sherwood was sacked from his post as Aston Villa manager, a lot of trust was placed in former Lyon manager Rémi Garde to turn things around.
Now occupied by Steve Bruce, the job was too much for the Frenchman, who ended up leaving by mutual consent in March 2016 after just 147 days in charge, unable to help the Villains climb back up the table.
Around the time of his appointment, reports started circulating Garde wanted to bring two of his old staff with him in Gérald Baticle and Bruno Génésio.
However, the pair, who were probably keen to join the Premier League and work with their former manager, were blocked by Jean-Michel Aulas, Lyon’s president, from leaving because he felt ‘a departure would destabilise the club’.
Fast forward a couple of months to December, and Rémi Garde and Aston Villa’s situation really hasn’t improved.
Still rock bottom of the Premier League, and with no new arrivals in sight to help backup the likes of then-injured Jordan Amavi and Micah Richards, things were looking bleak for Villa fans.
Over in France, Lyon were also struggling by their standards, and Hubert Fournier, the manager who had come so close to frustrating Paris Saint-Germain the season before, was let go on Christmas Eve.
During their search for a replacement, Bruno Génésio, then assistant manager, was appointed as interim manager, only for results to start to improve (almost) immediately.
Alexandre Lacazette, who had struggled throughout the first half of the season to find the back of the net, scored 15 goals in the last 19 games of the season, and Lyon climbed from ninth to second, winning 12 games, drawing three and losing four.
Lyon, at this point, decide they don’t need a new manager, and give the job to Génésio permanently.
Meanwhile, all Aston Villa have managed to do is cement their 20th position in the Premier League, with Rémi Garde completely helpless, and the club eventually put him out of his misery just before April.
Seventeen days later, Jordan Ayew and company were officially relegated to the Championship.
Here we are, just over a year after Garde’s appointment as Aston Villa manager, and it’s rather mind-boggling to see where the two men are now.
Génésio, who came so close to being a part of his friend’s terrible time at Aston Villa, still has a chance of qualifying Lyon to the next stage of the Champions League (if they beat Sevilla), while his team sit in fourth in Ligue 1
What is Garde doing? Talking to L’Équipe about his time at Arsenal under Arsène Wenger, and being vaguely linked to the vacant job at Lille, which looks set to be Marcelo Bielsa’s if the potential new owner manages to convince the Argentinean tactician to take it.
Oh, and most probably watching Steve Bruce struggle to get the best out of the current squad at his disposal.
It seems Jean-Michel Aulas helped his current manager dodge a bullet, and a big one at that.