As Big Ben struck midnight, the UK said goodbye to 2021 and welcomed 2022. A new year brings new hope and that is no different where Aston Villa are concerned.
I tried to stay away from the internet over the festivities and instead enjoyed time with family and friends so let me just apologise for the lack of updates from the website. Following a difficult year on a personal front, I am personally glad to see the back of 2021 and look forward with optimism for 2022. Enough about me anyway and onto the Villa.
Gerrard became manager on November 11th when he replaced the very loved Dean Smith. The former Rangers boss knew he had to hit things running from the off and he didn’t disappoint. While under his management, Villa have won all the games they would have hoped to and in those that we did lose (Chelsea, Man City and Liverpool) we gave as good as we got.
You have to dig deeper to see the impact Gerrard has had in his short time at Villa. We are seeing improved performances from all the players when called upon. Much of the current squad would have been loyal to Smith but they have all knuckled down and brought into what Gerrard and his coaching staff are trying to implement.
On top of that, he is very good in front of the cameras by showing respect to Villa at every opportunity. The best example of this would have been when he returned to Anfield and despite being asked numerous questions about his boyhood club, he refused to get involved. He made it very clear that, although a fan of Liverpool, he is the current Aston Villa boss and has a job to do.
I recently watched his documentary on Amazon Prime (Highly recommended if you haven’t seen it yet). Gerrard has generally been quite a private bloke away from football so this allowed you into how he thinks and why he is the man he is. From feeling the weight of a whole city on his shoulders to knowing when he needed help on a mental capacity. This can only benefit our squad of players. He can relate to what the players may be feeling. We have heard so many times that certain players are struggling with the pressure at Aston Villa – hopefully, he will be able to help those players get past that mental barrier.
A new beginning
A new manager often means a new beginning for any fringe players. Already we have seen Ashley Young benefit from more time on the pitch since Gerrard’s arrival. Young looks like a born again 22 year old eager to impress. Many criticised him when Smith tried him in midfield earlier in the season but under Gerrard, he has been very versatile and impressing when given an opportunity.
Morgan Sanson is another who will benefit. Luckily for Sanson, Gerrard was very familiar with the French man and knew exactly what he was capable of. The manager stated that he stood out in a friendly against Rangers in the past and he watched Marseille quite regularly. Villa have been quick to offload potential good players in the past due to not giving them a real opportunity to impress.
Carney Chukwuemeka is finally getting time on the pitch. Villa fans and probably Carney himself wanted to see what the youngster was capable of. For one reason or another, Smith chose not to use the talented youngsters he had at his exposal but Gerrard has been the opposite and 2022 could be the year for Chukwuemeka.
There is no real surprise that once again Villa are keeping their transfer plans close to their chest. Gerrard’s reputation could help Villa attract a higher calibre of players moving forward though.
Fabrizio Romano has claimed that Villa could be interested in Ajax full-back Nicolás Tagliafico. Although it is probably very early stages, it highlights that we are already potentially shopping in a different market.
Nicolás Tagliafico will be an opportunity as he could leave Ajax in Jan. Aston Villa had approaches for Tagliafico – still no talks opened with Ajax. 🇦🇷 #AVFC
He’s also been discussed internally at Chelsea weeks ago, among other names. Newcastle will decide soon on LB situation.
— Fabrizio Romano (@FabrizioRomano) December 31, 2021
Steven Gerrard recently stated that Villa were preparing for a busy January of comings and goings but expressed that deals would only take place if they were right for the club. The one thing that would excite Villans was when he stated that he thinks fans would be excited by the incomings, should we be able to get them over the line.
Keinan Davis looks set to go out on loan to Nottingham Forest while Axel Tuanzebe’s loan spell looks like it will end as he heads over to Italy.
From my point of view, I feel that there are a lot of positive things around B6 again and I ask you, why can’t this be our year?
If you stay away from social media, it’s not as bad as some would make you believe. Our performance against Chelsea for example wasn’t as bad as some would have you believe. For a large portion of the game, we threatened and could have had a penalty in the first half which could have resulted in a very different game. All this without our talisman, John McGinn. Not bad eh?
Of course, it is still the early stages where Gerrard is concerned but all the early signs are positive. Steven Gerrard needs this to work as much as the club does. Let’s hope it does.
Happy New Year Villans!