Aston Villa took advantage of the last international break this year to change their manager. Dean Smith, the man who brought the club back to the Premier League, has been replaced by Steven Gerrard, a former Liverpool captain and not yet a seasoned manager with three seasons at Rangers.
Leaving Rangers at the height of the season, in the heat of the fight for the championship with Celtic, Gerrard does not act very nicely towards the fans of the Scottish grandee, but this step looks quite logical and reasonable for the development of his coaching career.
Obviously, he wants to do his best by the time Jurgen Klopp leaves Liverpool, and the current Aston Villa is perfect for that. Especially in its current state, when the team is in 16th place in the table and simply must soon rise higher.
It is likely that Villa could have improved their results with Dean Smith – he has repeatedly demonstrated the ability to cope with crises like the one that hit the Birmingham club at the beginning of the current season. But the management decided to change the manager.
What Does Gerrard Need to Do?
Gerrard’s most obvious and urgent task in his new job is to figure out what’s going on with Villa. The club has big ambitions, but a rather vague plan for the season – to use the money from the sale of Jack Grealish to improve the entire team. Grealish was a vital part of Dean Smith’s Villa, and in the first 11 games of the championship, it was not clear what the team was doing on the field.
The club has a lot of talents, Gerrard should be probably thinking about attracting more prospects to the team. He is a specialist in that regard and we did see that in Rangers. We remember that Gerrard played alongside a lot of Scandinavian players such as John Arne Riise and Sami Hyypiä. He will definitely think about signing Norwegian players because they have a lot of good talents including Martin Odegaard. The latter could be one of the main candidates to join the club. His success has been tremendous and we can already see that the majority of Norwegian betting sites, also known as norske oddssider, offer a lot of promotions directed specifically towards him. Signing Haaland is more of an illusion but Gerrard could definitely use Odegaard in Aston Villa.
Gerrard Has a Team to Fight For Higher Aims
Gerrard has a good team that can rise above their current 16th place in no time, but they are probably not good enough to make it to the European competition with their current squad and current divisional competition. The owners of Villa have money for further investments, but they have invested recently in the club’s academy, which has begun to bear fruit. Villa won the FA Youth Cup last season and it is expected that several players from that team will make regular appearances in the Premier League.
Smith has already debuted Cameron Archer, and 20-year-old Jacob Ramsey has become a base player in midfield. Gerrard is expected to continue to integrate younger players into the squad, but he hasn’t really been seen to have a lot of confidence in youth at the Rangers.
But the first thing Gerrard needs to do is deal with the defence. Smith managed to do this work during the first season after the promotion, and the signing of Emiliano Martinez added reliability to the team. But for some reason, these achievements have been lost this season, although the line-up has not changed dramatically, and Martinez remains the main goalkeeper of Villa. Only Norwich and Newcastle have conceded more to Villa this season and, curiously, the team has become more vulnerable in set-pieces despite having hired a dedicated coach. Gerrard will bring a new specialist with him, as well as replace some coaches in the youth sector.
Individual players have surrendered significantly this season, and Gerrard needs to urgently fix this. Martinez, arguably the most important player at Villa last season, has played below his capacity – perhaps due to the fact that he had to make an unprecedented number of trips to South America after becoming the main goalkeeper of Argentina. Matt Targett had a great previous season, but his form deteriorated significantly. But Tyrone Mings began to play so badly that Smith was forced to remove him from the composition in recent matches.
The oddity of this season for “Villa” is that a lot has gone wrong, but it probably won’t take a lot of effort to fix the situation, since the reasons for the team’s mini-crisis were objective, and the problems at the start were expected. Dean Smith could fix everything, but there were people in the club management who wanted Steven Gerrard to manage the team further. And he came to a team that simply has to play better, even without super-efforts on the part of the coach