Aston Villa 2-0 Brighton: Analysing Steven Gerrard’s first game in charge at Villa Park

Late goals from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings saw Steven Gerrard get off to the dream start as Villa Head Coach

Steven Gerrard celebrates after Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa (not pictured) scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park

If there was ever any doubt to the reaction Steven Gerrard would receive from the Villa faithful during his first game in charge, that was quashed the second he entered the field for the first time a few minutes prior to kick-off.

Villa Park roared as the former Liverpool captain emerged from the tunnel and the 41-year-old seemed almost taken aback by the reception he received.

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He didn’t applaud the fans instantly, he looked around as he slowly made his way to the dugout, taking in his new home and then proceeded to clap all four stands.

Aston Villa's new English head coach Steven Gerrard (C) applauds supporters as he arrives to take charge of his first game ahead of the English Premier League football match between Aston Villa and Brighton and Hove Albion at Villa Park

It wasn’t the time for the niceties for Gerrard though, it was strictly business. The focus was all on the game ahead and it was one that he was desperate to win.

Both side’s took up their positions, took the knee on the referee’s whistle and the game was underway.

Within 30 seconds Gerrard was on the edge of his technical area shouting instructions at both Danny Ings and Emi Buendia - ordering them to pressure Brighton in possession and focus on their positional awareness.

And aside from what couldn’t have been any more than a 20 second period in the second-half where he sat on the bench, that spot on the edge of the technical area is where Gerrard stayed for the entire game.

He kicked and headed every ball, lunged in for every challenge and jumped in front of every Brighton attempt on goal. The former midfielder couldn’t have been more involved in the game without literally being in the game - sat back in his old position behind the strikers.

If there was one thing you could never question about Gerrard as a player - it was his will to win and that looks to have firmly followed it’s way into his management.

The fans bought into it, too.

It was a real tough on the eye game to watch for the most part but they got behind the team and could see their new Head Coach giving absolutely everything on the sideline.

This led to a “Gerrard give us a wave” chant from the Holte End. Unusual in a 0-0 game but it showed they liked what they were seeing.

The gaffer responded almost instantly and that was met with a cheer followed by a “Steven Gerrard’s claret & blue army” - one of many songs I think we’ll see about the new man over the coming weeks.

Every substitution he made was positive and designed to win the game, which in a match that was so finely poised at 0-0 was extremely refreshing to see.

And it was the changes that ultimately made the difference for Gerrard.

Ashley Young is substituted onto the field by Steven Gerrard, Manager of Aston Villa during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park

Ashley Young and Anwar El Ghazi were key in the opening goal. The former nicking the ball, beating his man and playing a lovely through ball to Watkins before El Ghazi made a bursting run down the wing that allowed Watkins to cut inside and unleash an absolute worldie into the top right corner.

Villa Park erupted.

And if there was any doubt as to what this club would mean to him, especially after his ‘all in’ comment that he made during his introductory presser - go back and watch the celebration to the goals.

The passion he had when he saw his strikes hit the back of the net as a player for his boyhood club was no different to that he displayed in front of the Trinity Stand.

And it was repeated just five minutes later when captain Tyrone Mings doubled the lead.

There were high-fives among him and all his coaching staff and a big hug for technical coach and lifelong friend Tom Culshaw.

All four sides of Villa Park were bouncing at the full-time whistle as Sweet Caroline blasted over the tannoy and even Gerrard, who as mentioned, was all business throughout the game, couldn’t hide his gleaming smile.

The most telling piece of his management I feel came after the final whistle, too.

He immediately ordered every one of his players over to the Holte End to applaud the Villa faithful.

As they made their way over, he walked with his arm around Buendia - who had a real poor game on the day and was evidently giving him words of encouragement. A gesture as small as this can mean the world to a player struggling at this current moment in time.

He allowed the Argentine to continue on towards the claret & blue fans with his teammates whilst he sat further back in the middle of the field and clapped from afar.

It was Gerrard’s day for the most part. All eyes were on him. Camera’s were in his face almost constantly but he didn’t want the plaudits, he wanted his player’s getting them.

He was the first to jog off the field too. Giving a fist pump towards those screaming his name in the Trinity Stand before disappearing down the tunnel ready to deliver his post-match team talk.

After the game he reiterated how much the day meant to him.

Steven Gerrard celebrates after Ollie Watkins of Aston Villa (not pictured) scores their team's first goal during the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Brighton & Hove Albion at Villa Park

“I hate losing,” he said.

“That’s what’s inside of me. I’m a competitor and I want to help these players be the best versions of themselves individually and collectively.

“I want at time to show emotion and I’ll always be as authentic as I can and if anyone doubted what it means to be being in this position, just watch me after them goals, that’s real, that’s the feeling, that’s the way it is.”

It was an impressive day all round for Gerrard who made his way back onto the field after his media duties to spend some time with his family and enjoy a moment of calm.

He watched on as his kids knocked the ball around on the turf of Villa Park but even then you could hear him vocally coaching them from the sideline!

A perfect day, ended in what the Scouser would probably consider the perfect way.