Aston Villa

Aston Villa

Premier League • England

Dalglish leaps to Rangers defence, admitting Gerrard exit to Villa not a good look

New Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard

Kenny Dalglish has insisted that he can understand Rangers fans’ frustrations over some particularly questionable aspects of Steven Gerrard’s exit for Aston Villa.

Gerrard could not resist the temptation of trying his luck as a Premier League manager by signing for Villa. Such an opportunity did not look a distinct possibility only two weeks ago, until Dean Smith’s sacking.

Indeed, Liverpool midfield great Gerrard swooped in to take up his first job in the English top flight.

The 41-year-old leaves Rangers following him guiding the club to a landmark Scottish Premiership title last season.

This term, meanwhile, the Ibrox club sit top of the league again after 13 games, four points ahead of Celtic. In the Europa League, they can still qualify for the knockout stages despite only winning four points from four games.

According to Dalglish, such factors – as well as his recent dismissal of links with Newcastle – make Gerrard’s motives questionable.

“In the days since Steven Gerrard left Rangers for Aston Villa, I don’t think the anger from the Rangers fans has subsided any,” the Liverpool legend wrote in his Sunday Post column.

“They have every right to be disappointed and hurt. They feel let down and betrayed, and the range of emotions we’ve witnessed on social media are fully understandable.

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“Many of them are still feeling very raw, and I can see why they are feeling dejected. One reason is the timing of Steven’s departure.

“He has left in mid-season, with a League Cup semi-final with Hibs and a huge Europa League tie against Sparta Prague on the horizon.

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“And after the Europa League win over Brondby recently, when pressed live on TV about speculation around him moving to Newcastle United, he stated he was happy at the club.”

Nevertheless, Dalglish went on to defend the player he was once in charge of at Liverpool.

Dalglish defends Gerrard, Villa move

Villa boss Steven Gerrard on Rangers bench, September 2021

“Football is all about moving from here to there. It has always happened, and it will continue to happen,” he added.

“You also have to try to see it from Steven’s point of view, and why he reached the decision to exit Ibrox.

“His reasons for leaving, I would imagine, are down to the lure of the English Premier League. That’s where every manager wants to be.

“It’s not about wanting to get out of Rangers. It’s about the environment the club plays in, and the level of the SPFL Premiership.

“The top flight in Scotland just doesn’t come close to the top flight in England. That’s just a fact. That was a huge part of the reason why Brendan Rodgers left Celtic for Leicester City in 2019.”

Dalglish even speculated that if Rangers and Celtic played in the Premier League, neither manager would have left their previous posts.

According to former Rangers man Ally McCoist, though, Gerrard’s move is a gamble for both parties.