Villa have today confirmed that Steven Gerrard will become the club’s new Head Coach.
Gerrard leaves Scottish Champions Rangers, after the SPL side accepted a compensation fee reported to be in the region of £4.5m pounds. This figure is reasonably assumed to include funds to secure the services of his existing back-room team.
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As Villa now welcome a new manager, so too we commence a new era.
Gerrard inherits a squad brimming with potential, but which has struggled to establish either a consistency or a distinct style. His first task will be arresting a worrying slide in form which has resulted in the club sitting just 2 points above safety.
Whilst the loss of Jack Grealish is lazily cited as the singular reason for Villa’s faltering this term, the reality is far less straightforward. After sizeable summer investment, the squad appears imbalanced. Bailey and Ings have been injury plagued. Buendia, our latest record signing, has been ineffectively deployed.
This imbalance forced his predecessor Smith into flawed attempts at accomodating players in unfamiliar positions and with it adopting an awkward new system. This was compounded by tinkering and a feel of “too many chefs” in terms of coaching staff around the manager. The cliche of ‘back to basics’ might be the order of the day.
The owners and Purslow preach a recurring mantra of “continuous improvement”. That might need to wait, with the incoming boss needing to negotiate a testing fixture list that includes Man City, Liverpool and Leicester across the next month. He’ll also need to face Chelsea before the year is out along with a visit to a rejuvenated Crystal Palace side.
Gerrard’s appointment brings with it great cause for optimism. It’s a fresh start after the results dried up for Smith in 2021. The former midfielder won major honours, including a European Cup for Liverpool as Captain. Few could conceivably argue that he isn’t amongst the finest of his generation, was a loyal servant at Anfield and notched over 100 caps for England on the biggest stages.
As noted in our article yesterday, there can be no overlooking that Gerrard’s managerial careers is in it’s infancy.
After a brief stint at Liverpools under-18’s (2017), he was appointed Rangers’ manager (2018-2021). His achievements include beating Celtic for the first time in 6 seasons (2018), winning their Europa League Group (European credentials), an unbeaten campaign and securing the clubs first title in a decade (2021).
With the international break seeing many of Villa’s players away from Bodymoor Heath, the new gaffer will have limited time to assess his squad before the arrival of Brighton at Villa Park.
This is a deceptively important fixture against less than straightforward opposition, well stewarded by Graham Potter. Whilst the international break provided the hierarchy the ideal opportunity for change, it does little to enable any new manager the time around those whom he stands to inherit. It is what it is.
A final word for those worried that this is a mere stepping stone for Gerrard. Ultimately, if he turns around this season and puts Villa back on an upward trajectory going forward then that will be regarded as progress. It wasn’t so long ago Glenn Whelan was missing penalties against Preston, the club faced being wound up and Steve Bruce was at the wheel.
Gerrard has signed a 3 and half year contract at Villa Park, he has a job on at VP, but there’s bags of potential in a squad crying out to be unlocked. Therefore, welcome to Aston Villa, Steven Gerrard. UTV.
Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach.
In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the Board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.STEVEN GERRARD, ASTON VILLA MANAGER