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What’s Next for Steven Gerrard?
Following Steven Gerrard’s sacking as manager of Aston Villa, here we take a look at what the 42-year-old Liverpool legend could do in the next phase of his career.
Gerrard was sacked on 20th October in the aftermath of Villa’s 3-0 defeat away at Fulham which left them with just two wins from their opening 12 league matches.
His sacking will have hurt the former England midfielder's ego, as he was so good at leading his old club Liverpool through a crisis when things weren’t going their way on the pitch and was used to being the hero and the last man standing, however, as manager, he found out that they are always the ones who feel the consequences the most.
With his determined nature and the personality shown on the pitch, perhaps it could be beneficial for Gerrard to get back in the game when he next gets a suitable opportunity, but the question will lie, where will that be?
The Work Gerrard did at Rangers
Following a glowing playing career for Gerrard, seeing him win nine honours with Liverpool, including the Champions League in 2004/05, he stepped into management outside of England, with Rangers, who are arguably the biggest club in Scotland.
This was a success despite the bumpy start that he endured, as he built a side that was capable of competing against Celtic who had been the dominant force across the border since Rangers’ relegation to Scottish League Two.
When he took over in June 2018, Gers had just endured a campaign that had seen them finish third in the table on 70 points, three points off Aberdeen in second, and 12 points shy of Celtic. Rangers had lost ten of their 38 matches in the league that season, whilst leaking 50 goals - a defensive record that was seventh best in the division.
After their dismal campaign under Pedro Caixinha which was then guided by Graeme Murty until the end of the season, a lot of bridges had to be built in order to take Rangers back to the top. Notably, one of these was earning a win over Celtic in December 2018, their first since 2012.
Despite not initially breaking Celtic’s dominance, even losing in the League Cup final of 2019/20, the 2020/21 was a season to be remembered, as the Ibrox club halted Celtic’s chances of winning ten in a row, winning 32 and drawing six of their 38 matches, whilst scoring 92 and conceding 13, resulting in a goal difference of +79.
Staggeringly, these statistics saw an improvement of 32 points, whilst overseeing a goal difference increase of +53 goals.
At present, Giovanni van Bronckhorst looks under pressure as Rangers manager following a dismal run of form in the Champions League, whilst also looking like he could finish as second best to Celtic in the league title race for a second campaign running, could Gerrard make a shock return?
Could Another Premier League job be on the Horizon?
At present, there are a couple of Premier League clubs without a permanent manager at present, such as Bournemouth and Wolverhampton Wanderers.
The latter of the two mentioned clubs, Wolves, have announced that they will not be getting a new manager until 2023 having missed out on several targets such as Pedro Martins, Nuno Espirito Santo, and Gerrard’s former assistant manager at Rangers and Villa, Michael Beale, who currently sits at the top of the Championship with QPR.
Meanwhile, Bournemouth currently have a former Liverpool coach as their Interim Manager, Gary O’Neil. Following two losses in their last two matches to the likes of Southampton and West Ham United, there could be the possibility of the Cherries looking for a different manager to take over the reins in the long term should they have a slump in form in the run-up to the World Cup.
Gerrard Must Learn From Villa Shortcomings
At Villa, Gerrard’s time was slightly lacklustre considering the hype there was around his appointment, perhaps this was due to a lack of cohesion in performances, or even the departure of key staff members such as Beale.
During his first half season at Villa, Gerrard’s record at the club was respectable considering that he was adapting to a new league managerially, whilst also taking over from Dean Smith who had seemed to struggle to find the right balance.
Big-name signings such as Philippe Coutinho may have looked good on paper, however, it is clear that they needed signings that would increase the efficiency and cohesiveness of the side rather than marquee signings on high wages. The likes of Lucas Digne, Boubacar Kamara and Diego Carlos made much more sense, although they have all been unlucky injury-wise.
On top of this, Gerrard perhaps should’ve made an adequate replacement for Beale as assistant manager and perhaps should've avoided creating rifts in the squad by falling out with key first-team members such as Tyrone Mings after controversially stripping him of captaincy.
These are things that he will learn from next time, as players clearly stopped playing for him towards the end of his time at the club, shown by Villa’s 4-0 thumping of Brentford in the aftermath of his departure from the club.
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