Aston Villa are reportedly set to appoint Steven Gerrard as our new manager this week in a move that will likely spark both excitement and apprehension amongst supporters.
There will be a level of excitement given the fact that the 41-year-old was a serial winner as a player, consistently competing at the top level year in and year our for his beloved Liverpool, while the start of his managerial career has brought success too at Rangers.
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However, still unproven at the very highest level and with an ambitious Villa currently in a difficult position, it raises concern over whether he’s the right man for the job at this particular time.
Naturally, with the Daily Mail reporting that the appointment could be announced this week as Gerrard is expected to be joined by his backroom staff from Rangers too, the Villa faithful will get behind our new boss and hope for the very best during his time at the club.
That said, there are still important questions that Gerrard will need to produce the answers to in order to convince all concerned.
Can he deliver on expectation?
Given the success of his playing career and his standing in the game across the world, there is going to be a new level of expectation on Gerrard’s shoulders as he returns to the Premier League for the first time as a manager.
He has the experience and pedigree of competing at the very top level, but this is an entirely new challenge for him both on and off the pitch in a major step up.
Further, it will also be intriguing to see what kind of pull he has in the transfer market, as he will no doubt be given an opportunity stamp his mark on the squad starting in January.
Can he compete with top-level tacticians?
The Premier League plays host to some of the best managers in the world, and now Gerrard will be going up against them week in and week out.
The standard and competition is certainly a level up in comparison to Scotland, and particularly given his lack of experience as a coach, this is where perhaps the biggest concern is.
Can Gerrard compete with the likes of Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Thomas Tuchel tactically? Even the likes of Graham Potter, David Moyes and others have shown they have a clear identity and style at their respective teams. Villa certainly hope, and clearly believe, he and his staff can deliver the same.
Will he be able to continue to develop youth?
With the youth talent coming through at Villa, it’s hoped that Gerrard continues to promote and give them chances, just as Smith did during his tenure.
Jacob Ramsey will hope to continue to play a key role, while the likes of Carney Chukwuemeka and Jaden Philogene-Bidace will be desperate for more prominent roles.
It goes beyond that too with all of our loanees and prospects at youth level, and so it’s imperative we continue to bring them through.
Man-management of squad with Internationals and big personalities?
While Gerrard had to deal with a dressing room of some strong characters at Rangers too, this is a different ball game given the experience and standing of some of the more senior players at Villa.
Can he get the best out of the likes of Emiliano Martinez, Tyrone Mings and Danny Ings?
It’s clearly a strength of his given how he managed the Rangers squad to success, now he has to recreate that in a new environment.
Will he provide success?
Ultimately, Gerrard’s tenure as Villa manager will be judged on the level of success he achieves.
The expectation for most realistic Villa fans this season is to try and finish in the top half and anything above that will be a bonus given the disappointing start and upheaval this past week.
Building on from that though, the objective will remain qualifying for Europe and hopefully enjoying some Cup success along the way. Let’s hope Gerrard proves to be the right man to get the job done.