Analysing Steven Gerrard’s time at Rangers and what the former Liverpool captain will bring to Aston Villa

The former England and Liverpool midfielder is seemingly edging closer to the vacant manager’s position at Villa Park

Steven Gerrard to Aston Villa is now a done deal and it’s got the fan base a little split.

On one side, you have those that wanted the big name, proven manager and feel the 41-year-old doesn’t have the experience the club needs to get to the next level.

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And on the other, there are those fully behind another young coach and have full trust that he can bring success to Villa Park.

Gerrard’s managerial CV is small but it’s impressive.

He only has one professional club on there in Rangers but what he has achieved in his short spell shouldn’t be overlooked.

Similar to what Dean Smith did in his initial stages with Villa, Gerrard brought the Gers back from the dead.

After a decade of misery for the blue side of Glasgow, he finally brought a league title back to Ibrox and did so whilst remaining unbeaten for the entire campaign. He was a legend on the field for Liverpool and with that achievement across the border, he has cemented himself as a legend off of it with Rangers.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard. (Photo by Craig Williamson / SNS Group)

Record

Played: 192

Won: 124

Draw: 41

Lost: 27

Goals For: 407

Goals Against: 139

Points Per Match: 2.15

As touched on previously - it’s a small CV but it’s a bloody impressive one.

To have only lost 27 games in all competitions, including in European football, over the span of three and a half years is a record the very best of managers would be proud of.

And averaging 2.15 points per match in the league? That pretty much guarantees a league title.

That isn’t to say he’s going to rock up to Villa and put up those numbers. Even the great Sir Alex Ferguson only managed an average of 2.05 points per match over the course of his career at Manchester United. Rookie numbers.

But what it does show, is like SAF, he’s a serial winner in this game. He doesn’t like losing and he doesn’t lose often. He always displayed that trait on the pitch but now that same attitude he has been able to take into management and it has evidently rubbed off on his players.

And the goals for and against column is there just for good measure. It’s very nearly showing four goals scored for every one goal conceded. There’s no wonder there aren’t many games lost.

Villa have an abundance of attacking talent within their squad and it’s fair to say it’s probably a level above that what he has at his disposal in Glasgow too. If he can get the claret & blue firing at similar levels, we could see the goals flying at Villa Park.

Steven Gerrard, Head Coach of Rangers throws the match ball during the UEFA Europa League group A match between Rangers FC and Olympique Lyo

Signings

Without naming every single signing Gerrard has made since his arrival at Rangers - as we’ll be here until the cows come home - his transfer business has been successful across the border.

Names he has brought in for a significant fee (£2m+) include, Kemar Roofe, Ianis Hagi, Cedric Itten, Ryan Kent & Nikola Katic.

All of those players have played huge parts in the recent success of the club. Katic was one of his very first signings he made and became a key to the turnaround in fortunes - solidifying the defence.

And one of the more recent additions, Roofe, looked to have hit a roadblock in his career after his disappointing stint in Belgium with Anderlecht but Gerrard saw something in him, brought him to Ibrox and he has since been able to revive his career and become a firm fan favourite for the Gers faithful.

In fact, pretty much every addition under his tenure has played a pivotal role in moving the club forward and there aren’t many, if any, you can point your finger at and call a flop - or call a waste of money - because he really hasn’t spent much.

What this ultimately shows is he, along with his team, know a player and can get the best out of them.

The most expensive transfer fee under his rein so far has gone on former Liverpool man Ryan Kent (£6.48m). Gerrard has been shopping in one of those well known bargain shops up in Scotland whereas under NSWE he’ll be given a loyalty card at Waitrose.

It’s really quite impressive what he has been able to do with such little backing and if given the go ahead to spend big at Villa Park - it could make for some mightily exciting additions.

Steven Gerrard, Manager of Rangers during the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Dundee United and Rangers FC

Tactics

4-3-3 (attacking)

Attacking full-backs

Possession football

Those three highlighted terms above could be exactly why the Villa gig is a match made in heaven for Gerrard.

4-3-3 is a system he has deployed at Rangers through near his entire tenure. In fact in 138 of his 192 games in charge, the former midfielder has started the match with his team set-up like this. On the odd occasion he has done so defensively - playing one holding central midfielder within the three - but predominantly it has always been attacking.

It’s a system Villa have played themselves under Smith but this season it has been more of a rarity. We saw it most recently in the second-half against Arsenal and the team looked far more comfortable in it but otherwise the claret & blue have often lined up with a 3/5 at the back in this campaign.

Leon Bailey, who is yet to see much action this year due to injury, spent the majority of his time in Bundesliga in this system with Bayer Leverkusen and this is where he has found the most success in his career to date. With a player like Bertrand Traore or Jade Philogene-Bidace on the opposite flank to him, this could be exactly what he needs to kick-start his Villa career.

Gerrard also likes emphasis on his full-backs and they are key to a lot of the success he has seen in Scotland. He wants them to attack and chip in with goals and assists regularly.

Villa already have players that are capable of doing so in that area. Matty Cash has been one of the more consistent performers in the team this year and Matt Targett, although not having his best season, does have the tools to play in this way.

And finally the possession and pressing aspect under Gerrard. The scouser likes his team to keep the ball and when they don’t have it, he wants them to get it back almost instantly. If the opposition don’t have the ball, they can’t score and this reflects in the impressive defensive record they also have under him.

They press from the front, very much like we saw from Villa last year. It will start in Villa’s case with Ollie Watkins or Danny Ings & it’s they who set the tone for the rest of the team to follow.

It’s a style very similar to that Jurgen Klopp uses with Liverpool and you can tell he’s learned a thing or two from the German during his time with the Reds youth team.

Villa certainly have the players within their ranks to press and fight for the club. They have the ability to play this way. In fact, they pretty much have the blueprint ready-made to begin implementing now Gerrard is through the door.

All that’s left to do, is to put it into action.