Cape Town - Newly installed Aston Villa manager Remi Garde has rejected claims he was hired to help motivate the club's contingent of French players, insisting that he is there to help the team as a whole.
The Frenchman replaced Tim Sherwood, who was sacked last month with the club at the bottom of the Premier League table, and will take charge of his first Premier League game when table-toppers Manchester City visit Villa Park on Sunday.
Paul Lambert, Sherwood's predecessor at Villa, had speculated that the club were targeting the former Olympique Lyonnais manager in an attempt to motivate the quartet of French and France-based players they signed in the summer.
Villa spent a reported £50m in the transfer window, with more than half of that used to bring in the likes of Jordan Amavi, Idrissa Gueye, Jordan Veretout and Jordan Ayew from Ligue 1, but Garde has denied he had any instructions from the management regarding them.
"My focus is the team - and the team result," Garde said, quoted by the club's website.
"I won't care more about the French players. The team is a whole team. We need to be all together."
The manager is under no illusions about the challenge he faces to stave of relegation for a side that is without a win in the league since they took all three points against Bournemouth in their season opener on Aug. 8.
Since then Villa have lost nine out of 10, with their only other point coming in the 2-2 home draw against fellow strugglers Sunderland on Aug. 29, but the new manager insists they have the right "spirit" to avoid the drop.
"I am quite confident because there are some very good players in the team," he said.
"The team is unfortunate at the moment, I think. Hopefully we can pull together and improve the level.
"The spirit I saw on the field (during Monday's 3-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur) was quite encouraging for me. I am going to work on that.
"I hope we will improve in different ways. It's a very short time before the next game on Sunday.
"I have no time. I know that," he added.