Steven Gerrard may find it tough as new manager of Aston Villa what with the club struggling in the English Premier League. Image Credit: AFP

Dubai: Aston Villa did not hang around in finding a replacement for the sacked Dean Smith. But then again, this is modern day football, and discussions between the English Premier League club and new boss Steven Gerrard’s representatives may have been going on for some time behind the scenes. Regardless, the former Liverpool star is in charge now at Villa Park, and even though he came from Rangers where he won the league title last season, is he the right man for Villa?

Big job

He helped win Rangers’ first title in a decade but in all honesty the Scottish Premier League is not a competitive league at all. It is always either Rangers or Celtic so winning there isn’t exactly hard. His detractors have pointed out that it was his only trophy in three-and-a-half years in charge. The 41-year-old led the club well during his short spell but has now taken on a much bigger job. Villa are struggling in the league and could well end up in a relegation battle. Gerrard has never been in such a situation ever in his career. At Liverpool, the team was always challenging at the other end of the table. He is used to winning trophies and playing for good sides. Now, he will have to use what little experience he has as manager to rally his new squad and get them winning again.

This isn’t the time to play pretty football because that is not what will keep Villa in the big league. They need results, and fast. There is a lot riding on this for both parties, but it is Villa who have more to lose. They cannot afford to drop out of the Premier League, the financial implications alone would be disastrous for them while some are saying Gerrard is using this opportunity as a stepping stone for greater things, such as the Liverpool job which is one of his goals. There’s nothing wrong with that – if he can do the business at Villa and save them then the club will be delighted and his reputation as a manager will continue to grow too. It’s a win-win for both. But, is he fails to keep them up, then the damage to both will be immeasurable. If he is to end up back at Anfield in the future then he must prove to be a success at Villa Park.

Relegation zone

At Rangers, he deployed a 4-3-3 system which was built on a solid defence. They just conceded 13 goals last season. In comparison, Villa have let in 20 in just 11 games this season. He will demand a big improvement from Villa’s players but whether or not they are up to the challenge remains to be seen. They are languishing in 16th in the table and are just two places off the relegation zone. Star man Jack Grealish left the club in the summer for Man City for £100 million but they brought in quality replacements in Danny Ings, Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia. However, those were all Smith’s signings and Gerrard will want new arrivals of his own and must stamp his authority on to the team quickly.

The board has already said they will back the new boss in the January transfer window, but the next two months could prove pivotal on where Villa eventually finish in the league and Gerrard’s reputation as a manager. He thrived under pressure as a player and always came up with big match-winning goals. Now, he’ll have to do the same on the touchline without kicking a ball...