After Steven Gerrard’s appointment was made official on Thursday, all eyes are now on Aston Villa’s clash with Brighton on November 20.
The 41-year-old is expected to start work on Monday at Bodymoor Heath and join up with his new squad, albeit many key individuals will be absent due to the fact that they’ll still be on international duty.
Aston Villa Football Club is delighted to announce the appointment of Steven Gerrard as our new Head Coach. 🟣
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) November 11, 2021
Nevertheless, his planning and preparation will begin for Brighton as Gerrard looks to make a positive and immediate impact having replaced Dean Smith at the helm at Villa, and it will be fascinating to see what changes he can implement, both short-term and long-term, in terms of his playing style and getting results.
Gerrard’s preference for 4-3-3, aggressive and attacking style of play
Throughout his time at Rangers, Gerrard favoured a 4-3-3 system which at times morphs into a 4-2-3-1 formation. It’s widely acknowledged that he prefers a possession-based style of play with an emphasis on attacking and progressive football, while he also expects aggressive high-pressing off the ball.
The players at his disposal at Villa could certainly suit the needs and demands of the roles for the 4-3-3, as Gerrard uses two wide forwards to attack through the middle, while his full-backs bomb forward and create width on the overlap to stretch play.
That should hopefully bring out the best in the likes of Leon Bailey, Emiliano Buendia, Matt Targett and Matty Cash, while it remains to be seen if Ollie Watkins is used on the left flank as an inside forward, or if he is in direct competition with Danny Ings to lead the Villa attack.
In terms of the midfield, which has arguably been Villa’s biggest weakness so far this season, the likes of Douglas Luiz and John McGinn will be tasked with providing cover out wide when the full-backs push forward, but they also have a key role to play in the build up of our attacks, with the responsibility on their shoulders to get on the ball and get us moving up the pitch.
Given the work ethic and stamina of a number of the regular Villa starters, Gerrard arguably has several individuals who will fit his style and system perfectly. He’ll look to make Villa a more aggressive, front-foot side and while his Rangers side went unbeaten last year en route to winning the title, they also conceded just 13 goals while scoring 92.
He leaves the Scottish giants top of the pile again after 13 games of this campaign, and he does so to take on a real test as he’ll face new challenges and have questions that he must answer along the way, as while this a brave and potentially exciting appointment by Villa, there is a lot of potential in this squad and we’ll have to wait and see whether or not Gerrard is the right man to bring that out and continues to evolve as a manager to lead us to success.
Probable Villa XI: Martinez; Cash, Konsa, Mings, Targett; McGinn, Douglas Luiz, Ramsey; Bailey, Watkins, Buendia.