Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard has revealed he will be looking to strengthen the “spine” of his team this summer and says he is delighted with one area of his side.
Gerrard takes his side to Manchester City on Sunday and Villa will have a say in the title race. If they can beat or hold City and Liverpool win against Wolves then his beloved Liverpool will claim the Premier League title.
For 14th-placed Aston Villa they cannot finish any higher than 11th, but Gerrard knows they have the potential for much more.
“I think we are further ahead here than we were at Rangers,” Gerrard told Sky Sports. “But it does take time, it takes windows, it is a patient process. It is not just going to change overnight. But I think we have got the ingredients here to become a really strong team in this league.”
Gerrard, who arrived at Villa Park in November, did make incoming transfers in the January window.
Philippe Coutinho, Lucas Digne, Robin Olsen and Calum Chambers all arrived.
Coutinho’s loan has already been turned into a permanent deal, while Digne has proved a shrewd signing from Everton. And Gerrard wants to continue building his side this summer be strengthen the core of the team.
“There are areas of the team where we are blessed and lucky to have some top talent but there are also areas where we believe we can get stronger and better,” he said.
“I think the spine of the team needs some support.
“We have got enough volume here. We have got enough bodies here. I don’t need quantity. I am looking for upgrades in certain areas of the team, who will naturally make the squad better.”
Gerrard hails full-backs
Gerrard, who paid Everton £25m for Digne, has been delighted with the Frenchman’s contribution. The former Barcelona star has made 14 appearances and been integral to Gerrard’s back four.
“Another big positive for me has been that when you come in during the season it is very challenging to get your identity across of how you want to play, but we can see in a lot of areas that people are stepping forward and really grabbing positions in the team,” added Gerrrad.
“I will give you an example. In the full-back areas, we feel both full-backs are in a fantastic place. They (Matty Cash and Lucas Digne) suit our style that we want to play. That’s just one example of an area where we are really happy.”
Gerrard has shown he can build a successful team. The Rangers side he left last year went on to reach the Europa League final on Wednesday night.
The former England star has also shown he is adept in the transfer market and three or four smart signings this summer could well push Villa to challenge for Europe in 2022/23.