Steven Gerrard has delivered an impressive first interview after being confirmed as the new manager of Aston Villa on a contract until summer 2025.
The Liverpool icon steps into the hotseat at Villa Park and will be charged with steering Villa up the table after an inconsistent season so far. Indeed, five defeats on the trot saw Villa slip to 16th in the table and resulted in Dean Smith being axed.
However, Gerrard will bring about a fresh wave of optimism after a period of success north of the border with Rangers.
Indeed, thoughts will quickly turn to how Gerrard will re-shape Villa’s squad. To that end, Thursday’s Paper Talk listed four Liverpool stars he reportedly wants to sign.
Announcing his appointment, CEO Christian Purslow told the club’s official site of his joy at reuniting with Gerrard.
“The Board of Aston Villa are delighted to appoint Steven as our new Head Coach.
“Since moving into coaching after his illustrious playing career, Steven began by managing and developing top young players in the Liverpool FC Academy which is experience we value highly at Aston Villa.
“He then took the brave decision to test himself in the intense and high pressured environment of the Scottish Old Firm. His subsequent achievement in winning the Premiership title with Glasgow Rangers really caught our eye as did his experience in Europe.
“It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven’s coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa.
“We are excited he has agreed to lead us in the next phase of our ambitious plans as we look to build on the progress made since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took over the club in 2018.”
Sky Sports claim Gerrard has agreed a three-and-a-half-year deal, keeping him at Villa Park until 2025.
“We thought it might be a two-and-a-half year deal but it’s a year more,” said reporter Rob Dorsett. “The compensation paid is between £3m and £4m, and that includes bringing assistant Gary McAllister to Villa Park.
“He has been here before, he was assistant to Gerard Houllier too a few years back.
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“It’s a huge story, not just for Aston Villa but for Rangers as well. Where do they go from here? They’ve got a League Cup semi-final against Hibs a week on Sunday, they’re challenging in the Europa League as well. They are also four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership. It raises an awful lot of questions for them.
“Villa’s owners expect to be in the top half, challenging for Europe and silverware on a regular basis. That’s the challenge he will have been set. He takes over an Aston Villa side 16th, two points above the bottom three with five straight defeats.
“But there will be money to spend. Before Jack Grealish was sold, Villa were a team who racked up the highest net spend in all of Europe. Even then, they spent another £85m in the summer. There will be money to strengthen this squad further and reach their ambitions.”
Gerrard explains Villa appeal
Gerrard himself admits that Villa held huge sway and he knew straight away why he should move to the Midlands.
“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football,” Gerrard said. “I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach.
“In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the Board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club. I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.
“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”
Rangers chairman Douglas Park added: “I would firstly like to put on record my thanks to Steven for his outstanding efforts over the last three-and-a-half years.
“He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments. Not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign.
“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent. He leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”