MARTIN KEOWN: Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa could be the PERFECT union… the new boss is fearless, likeable and can help the club finally move on from Jack Grealish
- Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa could be the perfect union after his unveiling
- The former Rangers boss is fearless and has been a winner since day one
- Villa are still reeling from Jack Grealish’s exit and Gerrard can help them move on
- Gerrard will need to decide whether to play Ollie Watkins or Danny Ings up front
Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa could be a perfect union.
A young, ambitious coach who got a taste for success in Scotland taking on a famous old club with an outstanding stadium, facilities and squad to boot.
Not long after he had broken into the Liverpool team, the teenage Gerrard put a full-blooded tackle in on me. It impressed me.
Here was a youngster up for the challenge. Although he was respectful off the field, he wasn’t fearful on it.
Steven Gerrard and Aston Villa appear to be the perfect union after the manager’s unveiling
He has been a winner since day one, and he is likeable, which helps when a manager needs to get a point across to a new set of players.
Gerrard has inherited a squad full of options and he will have been burning the midnight oil in a bid to find his best XI.
Dean Smith’s team was built around Jack Grealish and Villa still haven’t recovered from losing the goals, assists and creativity which came from their star man.
After his £100million sale to Manchester City, Villa didn’t try to replace Grealish with one player but three, using that money to sign Emiliano Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings.
The former Rangers boss is fearless and has been a winner since his early days as a player
Aston Villa are still reeling from Jack Grealish’s exit and Gerrard must help the club move on
Yet Smith never found a happy balance. Helping Villa forget about Grealish is part of Gerrard’s remit.
He found a winning formula at Rangers in the form of 4-3-3, which helped them go unbeaten last season.
At the back he needs to decide on his centre back pairing, and it will be interesting to see if Tyrone Mings starts next to one of Kortney Hause, Axel Tuanzebe or Ezri Konsa.
The full backs, Matty Cash and Matt Targett, look secure while in midfield, John McGinn has been as consistent as ever. Gerrard has options around McGinn, including a young talent in Jacob Ramsey and plenty more prospects in the academy, with Villa winning the 2021 FA Youth Cup.
Who starts in Gerrard’s front three? At Rangers, he used a lone striker, which suggests only one of Ollie Watkins or Ings will start up front. On the wings he can then choose from Buendia, Bailey, Bertrand Traore and Anwar El Ghazi.
The Englishman also has selection headaches and needs to decide who to play up front
In Villa’s last five league defeats, Smith chopped and changed.
It appeared he was trying to accommodate people, including by starting three central defenders and both Watkins and Ings up top. Unfortunately for Smith, it didn’t work.
Now Gerrard is in charge, he will be aiming to instil some much-needed consistency and start with three precious points.