Gerrard highlights Aston Villa pragmatism to get back to winning ways after admitting to criticism

Steven Gerrard clapping

Steven Gerrard believes his Aston Villa side took a step towards answering their critics with a 1-0 win over Southampton on Friday night.

There has been some pressure on Gerrard recently after an indifferent start to the season for Aston Villa. They earned just their second Premier League win of the season by beating Southampton in their last game before the September international break.

In a game that was far from a classic, Aston Villa earned all three points thanks to a goal from Jacob Ramsey in the first half. It has lifted them onto seven points for the season, from the same number of matches.

Although some criticisms of their style may remain, Gerrard thinks that by getting three points, they have taken a step in the right direction.

The manager told BBC Sport: “It’s a big victory.

“It wasn’t pretty or stylish but, with where we were in the league, we knew we had to do it in a pragmatic way. I’m really proud of the boys’ effort, application and commitment.

“We played better that we did last time. In football, you have to grind and fight and be committed and we worked hard today.

“We will get better in terms of style and possession and that will come but tonight was about the points.

“We had to back up our performance against Manchester City and there were a lot of eyes on us from the TV but we did it.”

It is the first time Aston Villa have kept a clean sheet in either the Premier League or the EFL Cup this season. For Gerrard, more of the same will be beneficial.

He said: “It’s how you build consistency by defending your box well. I’ve been critical about this group and the detailing if defending at times but today there were a lot of bodies on the line today.

“Maybe we tried to force it a bit tonight but as we move up the table maybe that’s when the pretty stuff will come. It has been a tough period but I’ve wanted step forward and protect my players.

“I’ve tried to fight and move up this table. We have accepted a lot of criticism and it’s about reacting and that is what we have done tonight.”

Hasenhuttl bemoans ‘worst game of the season’

Meanwhile, Southampton have suffered defeat without scoring for the second game in a row. As a result, they are now level on points with Villa.

For Southampton boss Ralph Hasenhuttl, the lack of chances in the game made it one to forget. But in the bigger picture, he wants to see more creation and conviction from his own players.

Hasenhuttl told BBC Sport: “It was a game that didn’t have much to do with football. A game with not a lot of chances from both sides. They had one or two and we had one at the end. It wasn’t what you want to see.

“They were more aggressive and physically strong than we were and that was why we were never in a situation to create something. It was by far the worst game of the season so far.

“I don’t want to say we didn’t try but in every duel we weren’t strong enough. You have to try a different way when playing like that. We tried different players and shapes but nothing worked.

“They didn’t have a lot of chances. Neither did we. Small margins can decide games.

“With the last pass or finish, we are not dangerous enough at the moment. We need more punch in the front, we need to create more chances. We have to find the players who can give you that.”

Southampton will host Everton upon their return from the international break on October 1. One day later, Villa will be back in action away at Leeds.

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