How Aston Villa have improved under Steven Gerrard

Steven Gerrard may be a novice as a Premier League manager, but after a couple of months in charge of Aston Villa, he’s already made a big impact.

Earlier this season, there was an air of gloom pervading Villa Park. The Midlands outfit had sacked Dean Smith in November after a run of five defeats on the trot, and Smith left Villa in 15th spot in the table.

There may have been some cynicism surrounding Gerrard before he took over the reins at Villa, even though he was successful at Rangers, and he had made the Scottish giants invincible after he went an entire league campaign unbeaten.

Some may also have thought that Gerrard was using Villa as a stepping stone to managing a bigger Premier League club, more specifically Liverpool, where he became a club icon after countless special memories as a player.

Villa, of course, has a large fanbase, and sometimes it is easy to forget that they were crowned European Cup champions in 1982 when they beat Bayern Munich in the final.

While those days have been consigned to the past, Villa appears to be a side on the up. Currently, Villa are 13th in the table, which may not necessarily seem like they have made huge strides, but don’t be fooled.

When Gerrard took over, he inherited a side that was shaky at the back and bereft of ideas going forward. However, Villa now look galvanised, and they seem to have an identity. His early run of games heralded wins over Brighton, Crystal Palace, and Leicester. Although there were defeats to Manchester City and Liverpool, Villa acquitted themselves well and made themselves tougher to break down.

And there were a few masterstrokes in the January transfer window. Gerrard was reunited with his former Liverpool team-mate Philippe Coutinho, and while some may have questioned Coutinho’s demise, the Brazilian made a big impact on his debut after coming off the bench against Manchester United. After going 2-0 behind to the Red Devils, Coutinho hauled his side back into the game, and he netted nine minutes from time to give his side an unlikely point.

Lucas Digne also signed in a deal worth £25million, and he will give Villa more options at left-back. Naturally, Villa will always attract serious interest from fans and pundits alike, and there’s no reason to suggest why they can’t secure a top-10 finish. Many of the leading bookmakers have already been offering interesting Premier League odds, which encompasses Champions League places, and who will be relegated. From our list of betting sites, you will see the likes of bet365 have listed prices on Villa to finish in the top half of the table come to the end of the season, and they have been given rather short odds.

Only time will tell as to how long the Villa board will give Gerrard to realise his vision, but the early signs look good, and he has instilled some much-needed confidence into the side.

While replicating his achievements at Rangers will be a tough ask, Gerrard has already shown in just a couple of months what he can do.

Perhaps down the line, a return to Anfield in the dugout as head coach isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. However, for now, he’s enjoying life at Villa, and he’s putting a smile on the faces of fans. And they will be hoping that doesn’t stop anytime soon!

Original Source: A Villa Fan

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