Why Aston Villa must keep faith with Steven Gerrard - for a considerable while longer at least

Watch more of our videos on Shots! 
and live on Freeview channel 276
Visit Shots! now

This article contains affiliate links. We may earn a small commission on items purchased through this article, but that does not affect our editorial judgement.

COMMENT - Patience must be shown with manager after just one third of a season in charge

Aston Villa’s latest setback against Watford resulted in sections of the Villa Park faithful turning up the heat on Steven Gerrard – with some going as far as to say the former Rangers boss is out of his depth – but another change of manager is not the answer.

Villa have won only one of their last eight matches in all competitions including taking just a solitary point from their three most recent encounters against relegation-threatened Leeds United, Newcastle United and Watford.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Indeed, if Villa fail to win either – or worse still lose both – of their next two matches at Brighton on Saturday and at home to Southampton the following weekend, then their form will have deteriorated to pretty much the same extent that resulted in Dean Smith being sacked after losing five successive matches in the autumn.

Smith and Grealish led Villa back to the Premier League during their time together. Credit: Getty.Smith and Grealish led Villa back to the Premier League during their time together. Credit: Getty.
Smith and Grealish led Villa back to the Premier League during their time together. Credit: Getty. | AFP via Getty Images

After the frustrating 1-0 defeat at home to the Hornets – in which the hosts mustered 20 shots at goal but forced just one save out of Ben Foster - some Villa supporters took to online fans’ forums and radio phone-ins to vent their anger at recent results and performances.

Supporters tweeted that the ‘honeymoon period is well and truly over’ and took objection to the manager’s persistence with playing a 4-3-3 formation which is deemed not to be working in the absence of defensive midfielder Marvelous Nakamba.

However, whilst nobody is doubting that things could – and indeed should – improve considerably in the near future, calls for the manager’s head after just 13 Premier League matches in charge are utterly ridiculous.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Thumbs-up: Steven Gerrard should be given much more time to get Villa pushing for European football. Picture: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images.Thumbs-up: Steven Gerrard should be given much more time to get Villa pushing for European football. Picture: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images.
Thumbs-up: Steven Gerrard should be given much more time to get Villa pushing for European football. Picture: Eddie Keogh/Getty Images. | Getty Images

The statistics are still respectable

Despite the wobble in form, Gerrard is still averaging 1.3 points per game as boss whilst he continues to integrate new faces into the team and work on formations and playing patterns. Extrapolate that form over a full season and it would give you 50 points – comfortably enough to stay in the division and possibly even a top ten finish.

There are some fans expecting a much better points per game ratio than that, but they should remember this is only Villa’s third season back in the top flight. There is absolutely no divine right to be challenging for European football at this stage.

Yes, it is fair to say that Gerrard may need to reconsider his 4-3-3 system and offer more game time to the likes of Morgan Sanson and Leon Bailey, but this is surely in the manager’s thoughts at this time.

Let’s not forget that Villa dominated huge chunks of Saturday’s encounter, just as they did, for example, in their 1-0 FA Cup defeat at Champions-League chasing Manchester United last month.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad
Danny Ings Danny Ings
Danny Ings | AFP via Getty Images

Players have to up their game

Aside from pulling on his boots again, there is little Gerrard can do when players miss the gilt-edged chances squandered by Danny Ings at the weekend and particularly Ollie Watkins in recent times. If Ings scores rather than inexplicably striking the outside of the post from point-blank range, then Villa surely go on to win that game and the world is a happier place for fans in B6.

Gerrard is only very early into his tenure and is still working with a squad which is arguably causing more frustration for fans due to how good it can be one week and then how bad the next.

The point is, the players have to take their share of the responsibility here. Just as under Dean Smith when a brilliant victory at Manchester United was followed just three weeks later by a horrific defeat at home to Wolves despite leading 2-0 heading into the final ten minutes, this set of players have shown they are still, understandly, wildly inconsistent at this level.

Form fluctuates. Look back to Smith’s tenure in the Championship. After his arrival, an initial upturn in form was followed by just three wins in 16 games, but then came ten successive wins and ultimately promotion. This season in the Premier League ten points from the first six games was followed by none from five.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

Gerrard will clearly need to get more out of his squad in the coming months but, barring an absolute catastrophe of a final third of the campaign, he should be in charge over the summer when Villa’s owners will no doubt continue to invest as they look to build a side capable of pushing for the top six.

A message from the editor:

Thank you for reading. BirminghamWorld is Birmingham’s latest news website, championing everything that is great about our city - reporting on news, lifestyle and sport. We want to start a community among our readers, so please follow us on Facebook,Twitter and Instagram, and keep the conversation going.

Comment Guidelines

National World encourages reader discussion on our stories. User feedback, insights and back-and-forth exchanges add a rich layer of context to reporting. Please review our Community Guidelines before commenting.