Aston Villa have announced the appointment of Steven Gerrard as their new manager, with the Liverpool legend waving goodbye to Rangers for a return to the Premier League.
The Villans parted ways with Dean Smith earlier this month after he oversaw a run of five league defeats on the bounce to leave the West Midlands club hovering above the relegation zone in 16th position.
Gerrard was Villa’s No 1 target to fill the vacancy, with the club’s owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, as well chief executive Christian Purslow impressed by the job Gerrard, 41, has done at Ibrox, his first in management.
Aston Villa have announced the appointment of Steven Gerrard as their new manager
Gerrard was Villa’s No 1 target to replace Dean Smith given his huge success as Rangers boss
‘Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach,’ Gerrard told the club’s official website.
‘In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the Board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
‘I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club. Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.’
Gerrard won the Scottish Premiership title last term, breaking Celtic’s sequence of nine in a row and going the entire league season unbeaten, and although he has shown fierce loyalty to the club, he has decided to embrace the challenge on offer at Villa Park. Rangers are set to be paid £2.5million in compensation.
The Liverpool legend arrives with Villa languishing above the drop zone following five defeats
Dean Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, was sacked by the club after a run of five straight defeats
Gerrard is tasked with staving off the threat of relegation with Villa hovering in 16th place
Gerrard was the leading name on Villa’s managerial shortlist that contained Brentford boss Thomas Frank and Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand – although the latter insisted he had no interest in taking the job. Belgium boss Roberto Martinez was also a candidate, although he is said to have had reservations about the job.
Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard and Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuttl were also considered by Villa chiefs for the post, but Purslow had a connection with Gerrard from his previous role in the Liverpool boardroom.
‘The Board of Aston Villa are delighted to appoint Steven as our new Head Coach,’ Purslow said.
‘Since moving into coaching after his illustrious playing career, Steven began by managing and developing top young players in the Liverpool FC Academy which is experience we value highly at Aston Villa.
Gerrard was hugely successful and admired at Rangers in his first job as a manager
‘He then took the brave decision to test himself in the intense and high pressured environment of the Scottish Old Firm. His subsequent achievement in winning the Premiership title with Glasgow Rangers really caught our eye as did his experience in Europe.
‘It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven’s coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa.
‘We are excited he has agreed to lead us in the next phase of our ambitious plans as we look to build on the progress made since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took over the club in 2018.’
Gerrard joined Rangers in May 2018 and has always said he is happy with the Gers, but a move south now allows the former England captain to spend more time with his family, who still live in the Liverpool area.
It is no secret that he is on a path to succeed Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool if he proves himself
Gerrard is synonymous with Liverpool after long leading the club during a glittering career
It is also no secret that Gerrard’s ultimate goal is to manage Liverpool, the club with which he is synonymous after a glittering playing career at Anfield. Bringing success to Villa could be his final stepping stone to his dream job, once Jurgen Klopp eventually departs.
His assistants Tommy Culshaw, Gary McAllister, first-team coach Michael Beale and head of performance Jordan Milsom are likely to follow him to Villa.
It is unclear where that would leave existing Villa coaches Aaron Danks and Austin MacPhee, who were hired under Smith earlier this year, while goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler also remains from the Smith era. Smith’s assistant Craig Shakespeare left the club with him.
Gerrard has the remainder of the international break to assess his new squad before the Villans entertain Brighton at Villa Park on November 20.
Villa chief executive Christian Purslow made Gerrard his No 1 target and landed his man
Gerrard’s Rangers side went unbeaten on their way to winning the SPL last season
Though the majority of Villa’s players were sad to see Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, depart after five successive defeats, Sportsmail understands Gerrard arriving has been greeted with widespread excitement in the dressing room, with senior figures already aware of the need to make an immediate impression.
Gerrard leaves Rangers top of the Scottish Premiership table, leading Celtic by four points, with the only blot on his copybook a Champions League qualifying defeat by Malmo which saw them drop into the Europa League this season.
As a player, Gerrard scored more goals against Villa – 13 in 27 games across all competitions – than any other side he faced in his career.
Gerrard scored more goals against Villa than any other team in his playing career