Steven Gerrard saw his Aston Villa players secure a 2-0 win over Brighton in his first game in charge on Saturday to give all concerned a huge lift.
Goals from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings sealed the victory for Villa, who had struggled at times during the game with the visitors enjoying plenty of possession.
Nevertheless, Villa showed plenty of grit and discipline to deny them many clear-cut chances, and particularly considering the lack of time that Gerrard and his staff have had this past week to work with the squad and get their ideas across, it was an ideal result that relieves some pressure and gives us something to build on.
Clean sheet is a massive bonus
Having leaked 13 goals in our previous five games, it was refreshing to see us keep a clean sheet on Saturday and show defensive solidity again.
Gerrard will want to make us hard to beat and an organised unit that uses its defensive qualities as the foundation of our success moving forward.
This was a positive start, albeit we were perhaps not on the front foot as much as we’d like, but ultimately a clean sheet and three points is an excellent result.
Three important points ends losing streak
Confidence and belief would have been low in the group despite the quality that we possess and the knowledge that we have the players to turn things around after Dean Smith’s exit.
However, it’s one thing talking about it and an entirely different thing putting it into action and getting the job done on the pitch.
Villa will be buoyed by this result, and it will hopefully be more than just a new-manager boost and instead the start of a good run of form.
Foundation to kick on and build
It’s important that Gerrard and his staff now set a standard with this squad and continue to build on this having eased some pressure and lifted the Villa faithful.
We displayed key characteristics in this win, but this is far from the philosophy and style of play that Gerrard will want to install in the long term.
With that in mind, it’s a great start, but what comes next is even more important.
Midfield still an issue
While we’re still missing Douglas Luiz and Morgan Sanson, the midfield still emerged as a problem given the amount of possession that Brighton enjoyed in the game.
Gerrard stressed in his post-match interview that Villa were content to let the visitors have the ball in certain areas before applying more pressure in midfield, but Marvelous Nakamba, John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey will surely need to be more commanding moving forward.
Prior to the game, Gerrard also spoke of his hope for Sanson being a big player for him, and so we’ll continue to hope that the Frenchman can put his injury woes behind him and become that man.
Lots to work on to improve
As stressed in some of the points above, this clearly is still a work in progress and so we need to manage our expectations.
Given the short amount of time that Gerrard had to work with the players this week, particularly those who returned late from international duty, he hasn’t been able to get all of his ideas across to the players and they haven’t had much time to take that information in and work on it.
In turn, Villa should continuously improve in the coming weeks, and we’ll hopefully see a side that is more aggressive and proactive to take charge of games moving forward.