Steven Gerrard can use Aston Villa job as a potential Liverpool audition
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Durban - Steven Gerrard has been appointed as the manager of Aston Villa. The Liverpool legend cut his teeth as a manager during a successful three-year spell with Rangers in Scotland.
Gerrard inherited a Rangers side that was in a rebuilding phase when he was appointed to lead the club in 2018 and successfully completed the rebuilding project as he led the Gers to their first league title in nine years last season. In the process, he prevented Celtic from winning an unprecedented tenth consecutive league title.
While Gerrard can be lauded for what he achieved in Scotland, it must also be remembered that it would have taken a monumental underachievement for him to have finished anything less than second in the Scottish top-flight based upon the squad that he had and the overall quality of the league.
Celtic was the only other team that he was ever really competing with. This new project at Villa will not be as smooth sailing as his job with Rangers was but this will be a more accurate display of his man-management skills and technical acumen. It will also be a perfect dress rehearsal for him to make a case to eventually be Jurgen Klopp’s eventual successor at Anfield. Based on his cult-hero status at Liverpool, there is no doubt that Gerrard’s ultimate aim will be to lead his boyhood club one day and potentially bring them the Premier League title as a manager, something that he failed to do as a player.
Gerrard inherits a Villa side that is out of form, having lost their last five consecutive league games. On paper, the Villa side is a decent one and while they are currently 16th in the league, they are certainly capable of comfortably avoiding relegation. By taking the Villa job, Gerrard has certainly proven that he does not feel that he should be given the Liverpool managerial position on a silver platter. Should his stint at Villa Park be a failure, it will be very difficult for Liverpool to consider him for the managerial position anytime soon, especially given that the Reds will be attractive for most top managers in world football when Klopp eventually vacates his job.
He will have big shoes to step into at Villa. Dean Smith may have been sacked but he was relatively good prior to the loss of form and should definitely still be in contention for a job in the Premier League when a mid-table managerial vacancy arises.
Gerrard’s first task will be to improve his team’s defending. The team’s defence over the last five rounds of Premier League games is the worst in the league. In that time, they have conceded 106 shots and let in 13 goals.
Goalkeeper Emi Martinez was in top form last season and with his form having now become ordinary, the Midlands club have leaked goals aplenty.
He also needs to address the problem of creativity in his squad which was created by the departure of Jack Grealish to Manchester City.
Based on the current level of confidence in the Villa team and the increased competitiveness of the Premier League, it can be considered a success if Gerrard can keep his new club in the Premier League this season.