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The Big Interview: Black on Garde, Villa's class and his Blues ties

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The Big Interview: Black on Garde, Villa's class and his Blues ties

Eric Black says he was struck by the class of the club when he toured Villa Park as an awestruck teenager - and the feeling is still the same since being appointed first team coach.

Black insists it's a pleasure and privilege to be part of the claret and blue family as he works hard with boss Rémi Garde to turn things around in B6.

"It's a top, top club - in every sense of the word, just look at the facilities, the supporters, the heritage and history, the stadium," he said.

"I am delighted to be here. From the outside you look and people say it's a massive football club but when you're inside you realise the enormity of the place and the standing the club has throughout the world.

"I have chatted to other people about Villa and the thing they always come back to me on is the class of the club. It's certainly been my experience.

"I remember my first visit. I was 15-years-old and headed down from Glasgow to see some family friends who lived in Sutton Coldfield.

"We headed to the old Bullring - it's changed now - and then we went off to Villa Park to have a look at the stadium. It really was some sight, absolutely amazing - and still is to this day!"

Black reveals he was first approached about the claret and blue first team coach position via a phonecall from fitness guru Robert Duverne.

He met up with the manager and decided he wanted the job in double-quick time.

Black also gave an insight into the qualities of the boss, who he rates and respects highly.

"I got a call from Robert - and he asked me to come and have a coffee with Rémi," he continued.

"I spent three hours with him - and he offered me the job. It was a surprise at the time - but a terrific surprise. And I'm delighted to be here.

"There are some fantastic people at Rotherham and it's a wonderful football club but when you are asked to come to Aston Villa, it doesn't take you any time at all to say yes.


"Rémi is an absolute gentleman. He's very articulate. He's very studious. He's very analytical. I have found him a first class individual.

"He exudes that calmness - and that's not easy in the Premier League when you're in difficulty. He has that assurance.

"Without doubt, he is passionate. He's been a winner - and he also wants to play football in the right manner.

"There's a passion there within Rémi - you don't play football at the level he has without having something about you.

"People often judge the manager's passion by how much he jumps around on the touchline - and if he's running up and down. That's not Rémi. That's not what he is.

"He's an intelligent man. He's studious. But he certainly gets his point across."

Villa are currently lying eight points away from safety - after a heavy 6-0 defeat to Liverpool at the weekend.

Black accepts it was a setback, after several weeks of steady progress, but he refuses to accept defeat in the survival fight.

"We are embracing this challenge. It's still not over," he added.

"It's a tall order, no doubt about it. Everyone knows that.

"But it's not one we've given up on, I can assure you.

"Every day we're planning and preparing. The programmes are being put in place and it's about going out and putting these into practice in the remaining games."

It won't have gone unnoticed, of course, that Black has previous allegiances to our neighbours, Birmingham City.


Black spent almost three-and-a-half years at St Andrews, with boss Steve Bruce at the helm.

He smiles broadly when his history is put to him.

"I remember some great derbies from the other side - some good and some bad!" he added.

"They were fantastic for the city. I loved them when I was at Blues and I appreciated very quickly how big that game is.

"To be fair, I have been unbelievably well received since I've arrived here.

"When I was at my first game, I did ponder the reaction to my time at Blues.

"But when I stepped off the bus, one of the staff here at Villa Park shook my hand and said 'welcome to the club.' I had the same throughout that first day - which was great.

"That just sums up the class of this club to be honest."

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Paul Brown
By @paulbrownavfc 19th February 2016
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