After his Aston Villa team suffered again another humiliating loss, Steven Gerrard pledged he would “never quit.” He received a significant damage to his managing image when he was fired moments afterwards.
Only goal differential kept Villa out of the relegation zone following the 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Thursday, with the former Rangers manager paying the price for his team’s two victories in the first 11 Premier League games of the season.
Following his impressive tenure in Scotland, the former Liverpool and England midfielder, who took Dean Smith’s position at Villa last November, was considered a long-term contender to succeed current Reds manager Jurgen Klopp.
Now, Gerrard must pass the time while he waits for a chance to repair the damage his 11-month stay at Villa Park has done to his image.
After his side lost again, the 42-year-old took a combative stance, vowing to “never, ever quit anything, whether it’s football or in life,” but the guillotine dropped seconds after, signifying a rare setback in an illustrious sports career.
Gerrard, who is regarded as one of the finest players in Premier League history, had a successful debut as a manager in 2021, leading Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership championship in ten years.
The feat made him a hero among Rangers supporters as it prevented arch rivals Celtic from winning a record-breaking 10th consecutive league championship.
But since arriving to Villa Park, Gerrard has been unable to capitalize on that good effort, as a string of subpar performances have kept him from winning over the club’s fans.
In 40 games as manager of the former European champions, he only managed 13 victories while losing 19 of them.
They were ranked 16th in the Premier League when he joined the team. He guided them to a 14th-place finish the previous year, but now Villa is in the bottom three of the league, 17th in the table, tied on points with Wolves.
Gerrard received major transfer support, including a move for Philippe Coutinho of Barcelona, a Brazilian playmaker, but was unable to meet Christian Purslow, the head of Villaneed ,’s for “constant progress.”
Injuries to Diego Carlos, Boubacar Kamara, and Lucas Digne, all of whom were signed during his time, have also been a hindrance.
After being on loan from Barcelona last season, Coutinho was signed on a permanent basis, but he has been a huge letdown.
After signing a four-year contract, Gerrard, who played with the Brazilian at Liverpool, predicted that the player would “move up another level,” but Coutinho has failed to score this year and looks nothing like the man Barcelona spent £142 million ($158 million) for in 2018.
– A tough lesson
Jamie Carragher, a former teammate of Gerrard’s at Liverpool, said that Gerrard’s time at Villa was a bitter lesson in how difficult the move from playing to coaching can be.
“When you enter management, you know the price on the ticket – and if outcomes are not right, whether the players are disappointing you or underperforming, it is the manager who carries the can,” he told Sky Sports News.
“That’s always the case, and that’s the cruel aspect of football administration,”
Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, owners of Villa, are allegedly willing to provide one of the highest wages in the Premier League to get a quality replacement for Gerrard.
Along with ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel, former PSG and Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino has been mentioned in connection with the position.
It remains to be seen whether any of the two guys may be convinced to join a club given Villa’s precarious situation.
Coach Unai Emery of Villarreal, who has experience in the Premier League with Arsenal, and former Burnley manager Sean Dyche, a veteran of multiple relegation fights with the Clarets, might be other options.