As new manager Remi Garde watched his Aston Villa side from the stands at White Hart Lane, he would have been under no illusions about the size of the job he has on his hands at the prestigious club.
It took just 144 seconds for Tottenham, through Mousa Dembele, to highlight the fragilities in the Villa backline which has presided over just one league clean sheet all season, away at Bournemouth on the opening day.
A sweet half-volley from the young Tottenham midfielder Delli Alli gave Spurs a two goal lead shortly before half time. Jordan Ayew gave the Villains a sniff of a comeback after his deflected shot wrong footed Hugo Lloris. But Spurs put the game to bed, with Harry Kane scoring after a fine move from the home side, as they ran out 3-1 winners to continue their recent form.
Despite Villa’s obvious woes, they now sit bottom of the league on just four points, four points away from safety, and they have just set the record for the worst start to a Premier League season in the club’s history.
But there were some encouraging moments for the on looking Garde. For a ten minute spell before and after Ayew scored, there looked to be real life inside the Villa players, who had been distant and lethargic for much of the game.
Leandro Bacuna struck the post moments before Ayew’s goal, with a neat curling effort, and it’ll be the prolonged pressure after the goal that Garde will want to see more of in the coming games. Indeed, Villa fans will wonder where this side of their team has been, as arguably their best spells this season have come when the game already appeared lost, with the 3-2 defeat at Anfield in September, and Monday night against Spurs.
It is in the attacking-third where Garde has the most work to do, as Villa have scored just 10 goals this term, with only Stoke having registered less.
There is an apparent lack of guile in the Villa line-up, as Jack Grealish has struggled to find the form that had England fighting for his commitment at the end of last season, and with Ayew, as well as Gabriel Agbonlahor, and Scott Sinclair, there’s pace, but with no real creativity. Rudy Gestede offers a focal point with his power in the air, and was impressive after coming on against Tottenham.
Garde will hope that he can get the best out of Gestede and a number of French speakers among the Villa squad, most of whom were bought in during the summer to replace the huge holes left by the departing Christian Benteke, Fabian Delph and Tom Cleverley. But Garde does not have long to get his philosophy and tactics across to his new squad, with Villa languishing in an ominous position and Man City and Everton to face in the next two games, the odds are stacked against the Frenchman.