Following another disappointing performance and result this weekend, Aston Villa face a critical decision on current boss Steven Gerrard in the coming weeks.
It’s important to begin by stressing that it’s never an ideal situation to question a manager’s future, as ultimately that means he’ll potentially be out of a job and that things haven’t gone to plan for the club.
It’s been a frustrating start to the Premier League season for Villa, with a battling win at home over Everton sandwiched in between two poor performances and results against Bournemouth and Crystal Palace respectively.
While we’ve scored three goals in those three outings, we’ve also conceded six, and crucially the same old issues are leading to the same old inconsistency that plagued us last season after Gerrard was appointed in November.
The fact that supporters are still bemoaning our defensive frailties and lack of presence and control in midfield is madness in itself, as the club and Gerrard collectively haven’t addressed our most glaring problems and vulnerabilities despite ongoing evidence of them existing.
Further, we’re still awaiting clear signs of the identity and philosophy that Gerrard has constantly spoken of since arriving at Villa, as we continue to play with a lack of clear direction, style and sustained progression to show we’re building something, or rather anything.
Having had nine months at the helm, Gerrard should have by now built a solid foundation to this side and made us harder to beat, while implementing a style of play that maximises the strengths and attributes of the players at his disposal.
Instead, we still look disjointed and lacking cohesion across the pitch for large periods, it’s a struggle to name any individuals who have vastly improved under his stewardship and his tactical set up and strategy is a week-by-week gamble which may or may not work.
Should Villa continue to spend big and back Gerrard?
So this is where the problem lies. Villa face West Ham Utd, Arsenal and Manchester City in our next three league fixtures, and there is speculation that we will continue to spend big on reinforcements before the transfer window deadline to back Gerrard and strengthen his squad.
As per Fabrizio Romano, we could be set to spend north of €25m on Ismaila Sarr from Watford, and that move in itself is baffling for many reasons. While he’s an exciting player and will add a new dynamic to our attacking options, Gerrard can’t yet get the best out of his current options in the final third and so we’re simply now just throwing in another option?
Further, a winger is certainly nowhere near the top of the priority list in terms of what we need, and so if this deal does go through, Villa must be looking at the midfield and defence too to strengthen across the board where we actually need it.
This is where the club management need to be careful. If we continue to throw money at it and back Gerrard, can he really get the best out of those coming in and his squad as a whole? If they’re convinced he can, we push on. If not, we’re putting ourselves in a more difficult spot further down the line if we are forced to make a change.
While we all want Gerrard to succeed and thus Villa enjoy a successful season, there are a lot of question marks over him and his ability to take us forward to where we want to be. That’s based on the job he’s done to date and the weaknesses and concerns that we simply aren’t finding answers for.
After nine months, a full pre-season and a steady drip of new signings to suit his ideas, Gerrard hasn’t shown enough development and improvement thus far both as a manager nor in terms of improving the players at his disposal, and so Villa need to be very careful if they continue to spend big and back him as it could be a costly mistake.