Steven Gerrard is the new Aston Villa manager.
On Thursday morning, Villa announced they had appointed the Rangers manager following the sacking of Dean Smith.
The Liverpool legend has been in charge of Rangers since 2018 and helped end Celtic’s long-running reign in Scotland by winning the Premiership last season.
Now, he’s ready for a crack in England.
But managing in Scotland and managing in England is a totally different kettle of fish.
Yes, Rangers are a huge club but the SPL isn’t anywhere near as competitive as the Premier League.
Despite being an incredible player in his own right, you certainly wouldn’t blame him for being a bit anxious ahead of meeting his new players for the first time. He certainly was when he addressed his Rangers team after landing his first managerial job, as revealed on the High Performance Podcast.
“I remember addressing the team, the squad, for the first time,” Gerrard recalled. “It was one of the most nervous talks I’ve ever done. I had a few days and weeks prepare for what I was going to say. But for me, the key thing was to let them know that I’m not standing here addressing you as Steven Gerrard the player.
“I’m not gonna think I’m this person because I’ve had a decent football career. This is me, here, to try and help and support you and try to improve you all as a group. To try and use my experience and my knowledge and my team or people and to try and help you.”
So, how will he get on?
Well, we’ve got our crystal ball out and predicted 11 things that will happen with Gerrard at Villa Park.
Let’s take a look:
There will be a new manager bounce
Aston Villa have lost five Premier League matches in a row and sit in 16th place. The reason Smith was sacked is because Villa have a squad that is far better than that.
Expect Gerrard to come in and results to turn around immediately.
What we’d give to be in the dressing room for that very first speech as Villa manager as previously mentioned. The players are going to have the utmost respect for him and hang on to his every word.
The atmosphere at Villa Park will be electric
Villa Park is one of the great stadiums in English football. It’s got history – and it’s got one hell of an atmosphere when they’re winning.
We reckon Gerrard’s appointment alone will get the home fans in the mood. Just imagine when they start winning matches again, too.
Villa Park could become a fortress once again.
Rangers fans may turn on him
Gerrard is considered a legend at Ibrox after helping Rangers win their first SPL title in 10 years and stopping Celtic’s dominance.
So, why would they turn on him?
Well, we’re looking at the example of Brendan Rodgers leaving the Scottish Premiership for Leicester and the way Celtic fans reacted to that.
Villa are in a worse position than Leicester were in so it could be a similar story for Gerrard. Although just look at the way Rangers fans greeted his car ahead of Rangers winning the league and it’s fair to say they will always have a soft spot for him.
Get a hero’s reception at Anfield
From fans that may turn against him to fans that will always adore him…
Liverpool fans probably heading straight to the fixture list when they heard Gerrard was set to be appointed as Villa boss. If they did, they would have seen:
‘LIVERPOOL VS ASTON VILLA: 11 DECEMBER, 15:00.’
That’s going to be some occasion at Anfield as Gerrard returns home as a manager. While Liverpool fans may have booed Luis Suarez recently, there’s absolutely nobody in that stadium that will boo Gerrard. No matter the result, he will get a hero’s reception before, during and after the match.
Steven Gerrard chants in every Premier League match
“Steve Gerrard, Gerrard, he slipped on his f***ing a**, he gave it to Demba Ba, Steve Gerrard, Gerrard.”
That chant is going to be heard in every Aston Villa match between now and, well, forever. It will perhaps be loudest when Manchester City come to Villa Park on December 1, or when they host Chelsea on Boxing Day.
Expect Villa to play attacking, possession-based football
Throughout his time at Rangers, Gerrard has alternated between a 4-3-3 or 4-2-3-1 formation. He’s often used inverted wingers with Leon Bailey and Emi Buendia likely to play those roles.
The problem this leads to is that he only plays one central striker. Villa currently have Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings. It’s likely Watkins will have to settle for a place on the bench.
But if Villa supporters have watched any of Gerrard’s Rangers, they will be excited by the football they played.
Villa will be a fun team to watch.
Danny Ings will be on fire
That brings us nicely onto Ings.
The striker joined Liverpool in the summer that Gerrard left but that didn’t stop the outgoing midfielder from speaking highly of the signing.
“The Ings one I’m really excited about because he can be what he wants to be – I know the talent’s there, he’s very young, he’s fresh,” said Gerrard when assessing the signings made by Liverpool.
“I think if he carries on learning and developing he can become a top striker and we love top strikers, so it’s there for them, the stage is there and I wish [him] the best of luck and I’m looking forward to watching [him] play.
“He might be the type of player that needs that bigger club, and does thrive on the pressure. He’s certainly got the platform there at one of the best clubs in the world to showcase his talents.”
They have no doubt been in contact due to their Liverpool connection and we predict Ing will start firing on all cylinders.
He’ll sign Joe Aribo from Rangers
Aston Villa have been missing something in central midfield this season.
It’s an area that Gerrard will be looking to improve and the perfect solution may come from his former club, Rangers.
Aribo has established himself as a key player for the club since his arrival from Charlton. The 25-year-old has been linked with a £10 million move to Crystal Palace but he’ll surely be more interested in following Gerrard to Villa.
He’ll get the very best out of John McGinn
If you’re a central midfielder, there can’t be too many other people you’d like to be managed by than Gerrard.
As we’ve already mentioned, Villa have a good squad and one of their best players is John McGinn. However, he hasn’t quite been at his very best this season. But the Scot will no doubt be inspired by Gerrard’s arrival. We can actually see him being turned into more of a No.10, playing behind Ings if Gerrard opts for a 4-2-3-1 formation. If so, expect his numbers to improve dramatically.
He’ll get Aston Villa in Europe
It’s reported that Gerrard will sign a two-and-a-half-year contract at Villa. What can he achieve in that time?
This campaign, a mid-table finish is about as good as he can wish for.
But next season, he will be targeting the top eight. If he manages to achieve that, his sights will be even more ambitious for the 2023/24 season.
And if he’s given the financial backing from the club – which we’re sure he will be – we have a sneaky feeling Gerrard will get Europe back in Europe for the first time since 2010.
He’ll replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool
So, Gerrard’s contract is set to end in 2024. Guess which other Premier League manager currently has a contract that runs until then? Yep, Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool.
It’s just destined to happen, isn’t it?