Steven Gerrard is the new Head Coach of Aston Villa Football Club.
The former Liverpool and England captain has succeeded boyhood Villan Dean Smith, who was sacked on Sunday following a run of five successive defeats.
It’s an appointment, that had you suggested it immediately following Smith’s departure - would have had a lot of people saying “no chance.”
But as the hours and days progressed, it became more and more evident that Gerrard was the man for Villa.
They moved quick for the Liverpool legend. He had dinner with Christian Purslow on Wednesday and was announced at 10am Thursday morning - less than five days after Smith had been shown the door.
Many, prior to the rumors, expected a big “been there and done it” manager to be next through the door. One that had experience at the very top level.
Former Roma manager Paulo Fonseca was linked, Unai Emery and even current Ajax boss who is highly thought of across Europe - Erik ten Hag.
Owners’ Nassef Sawiris, Wes Edens & CEO Christian Purslow have a dream. The dream is to get Villa playing European football and doing so regularly. They have a clear vision and pathway for the club and so it’s no surprise that many were preparing themselves for a groundbreaking appointment.
That’s not to say an inexperienced manager in Gerrard can’t achieve groundbreaking things but it certainly came as a shock considering he has the same amount of trophies on his CV as Smith had.
But what it does show is the great faith that Purslow and the board have in Gerrard. With the funds that Villa have available, there’s no doubt they could have prized a more experienced manager to Villa Park but what they have seen and heard from the Liverpool legend had them sold.
Every decision in football is scrutinised to death but this one may be given a little more attention than others have in the past.
It was not only an extremely gutsy appointment to make but it was also an extremely bold decision from the 41-year-old himself to leave his position at Rangers.
Gerrard is leaving a situation where he had a great chance of bringing back-to-back titles to the blue half of Glasgow. The Gers sit four points clear at the top of the SPL and are also on the brink of progressing through the Europa League group stages again.
Regardless of what some may say about the league north of the border - there’s no denying that would have made his managerial CV look a little more cushty.
Instead, he has chosen to take a job which carries with it far more risk.
Make no bones about it, Gerrard’s ultimate goal is the Liverpool job. Could he have achieved that by staying in Scotland? Probably. He pretty much guarantees himself a few more trophies if he stays in the SPL, cements his legacy with a ridiculously healthy win percentage and then moves on to Anfield when Klopp decides to leave.
However, as seen during his playing days, he doesn’t do things the easy way and has chosen to challenge himself. That shows a lot about his character and only reflects well for what he can bring to Villa.
Having said that, if his stay in the west midlands is unsuccessful, he greatly harms his chances of achieving his ultimate goal. Regardless of club legend status - Liverpool’s owners, like Villa’s are ambitious and won’t accept mediocrity.
And, of course, if unsuccessful, NSWE & Purslow get hammered for either not sticking with Smith or not choosing the experienced option.
But, if the gamble pays off - it’s a masterstroke from both Villa’s team and Gerrard’s.
One gets the goal they set out to achieve when they took the reins - a team fighting for Europe and the other gets his end prize essentially wrapped up and handed to him on a silver platter.
It’s a double edged sword. It could end in disaster or it could work out to be the perfect storm.
Either way - the next few months and hopefully years are going to be an interesting ride.
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