When Tim Sherwood was sacked from Aston Villa and Remi Garde was appointed in his place, even the most adamant believers in the Claret and Blue were skeptical about just how much the new manager could change. Remi Garde did well in his three seasons at France's Olympique Lyonnais, but he was also arriving at Aston Villa with the football club in virtual tatters. How could he fix things when so much was broken? However, in his first game as manager he oversaw a strong performance from Aston Villa against Manchester City, is this the beginning of new found fortunes for the Claret and Blue?

Aston Villa's Tough Situation

Indeed, while Sherwood helped Aston Villa to avoid relegation last season, that's just about the only positive thing that could be said about the soccer club's last 12 to 18 months. The Lions lost their biggest talents over the summer (including Christian Benteke to Liverpool and Fabian Delph to Manchester City), and while an influx of new talent promised a fresh start for the team, it quickly became evident that "fresh" didn't necessarily equate to "strong."

Indeed, in the few months that Sherwood coached Aston Villa this season, he only managed a single Premier League win. The victory, against AFC Bournemouth, came the very first week of EPL competition and provided false hope to Aston Villa fans that good things might be just around the corner. Instead, the win proved to be a fluke, and other than a 2-2 draw against Sunderland on August 29th, Sherwood lost every other Premier League match until he was sacked.

Things didn't look up when Kevin MacDonald stepped in either. After Sherwood left but before Garde arrived, the Lions played a November 2nd fixture against Tottenham Hotspur. They were pummeled 3-1 by the Spurs, sending shot after shot wide and only managing their one goal late in the game.

Aston Villa vs. Manchester City

Given Aston Villa's recent streak of poor performances, combined with the fact that the football club were scheduled to face Manchester City for Garde's first match in charge, no one would have blamed the new manager for starting his tenure at Villa Park with a loss. After all, Manchester City are the top football team in the Premier League right now, with eight wins to Villa's one. Heading into the match, the Sky Blues were 21 points above the Lions in the standings.

However, through a mix of hard work and good luck, Remi Garde escaped his first game at the helm with a spiritual victory. Donning the Aston Villa home shirt 2015/16 and taking the pitch at Villa Park, the Lions played hard and earned a shocking scoreless draw against the best team in the Premier League.

With all due respect to City, the Sky Blues arguably should have won the game. They had more scoring opportunities and came close to putting the ball in the net a few times. One particularly "hold your breath" moment occurred at 90+2, just minutes before the game drew to a close. Fernando set a powerful header barreling toward the Aston Villa goal, in what looked sure to be a game winner for the Premier League leaders. Instead, the ball clattered off the crossbar, and the Lions got to kill the final minutes of the match to force a draw.

A Positive Start

The scoreless draw with Manchester City is a strong, positive start for Remi Garde's tenure at Aston Villa. Aston Villa Home Shirt 2015 - 2016However, it's important to remember that the Lions still have a very long road to recovery. The draw adds a point to the soccer club's standings total, but they are still in last place, one point behind Sunderland. Manchester City, meanwhile, still held on to the top spot in the league, in spite of the lukewarm outcome.

The question, of course, is whether or not the draw was a fluke for Aston Villa? Like the club's season-opening win against AFC Bournemouth, will this outcome against Manchester City lull Villa fans into a false sense of positivity? Or will they follow it up with a win against Everton on November 21st, or against Watford on the 28th?

At Soccer Box, we want to hear your thoughts! Has Remi Garde figured out how to fit the disparate pieces of Aston Villa's football squad together as a cohesive whole? Or is the team barreling toward relegation? Share your predictions with other fans on Soccer Box's social media pages, at Facebook, Tumblr, LinkedIn or other popular platforms.