Steven Gerrard vowed he would “never quit” after his Aston Villa side slumped to another damaging defeat. Minutes later he was sacked in a severe blow to his managerial reputation.
The former Rangers boss paid the price for just two wins in the first 11 Premier League matches of the season, with only goal difference keeping Villa out of the relegation zone after the 3-0 loss to Fulham on Thursday.
The former Liverpool and England midfield great, who replaced Dean Smith at Villa last November, was tipped as a potential long-term successor to current Reds boss Jurgen Klopp following his successful spell in Scotland.
Now Gerrard must bide his time as he waits for an opportunity to rehabilitate a reputation tarnished by his 11-month spell at Villa Park.
The 42-year-old struck a defiant tone after his team slumped again, saying he would “never, ever quit anything whether it’s football or in life” but the guillotine fell moments later, signalling a rare failure in a stellar career in football.
Considered one of the greatest players in Premier League history, Gerrard made a promising start to life as a manager, guiding Rangers to their first Scottish Premiership title for a decade in 2021.
The achievement won him hero status among the Rangers fans as it denied bitter rivals Celtic a record 10th straight league title.
But Gerrard has been unable to build on that impressive work since moving to Villa Park, as a series of lacklustre performances have prevented him from winning over the club’s supporters.
He won just 13 of his 40 games in charge of the former European champions, losing 19 of those.
Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard looks dejected as Aston Villa goes down to Fulham 0-3 in a Premier League match on October 20, 2022.
| Photo Credit: REUTERS
When he joined the club they were 16th in the Premier League table. He led them to a 14th-place finish last season but leaves with Villa 17th in the table, level on points with Wolves, who are in the bottom three.
Despite being given significant transfer backing, including a swoop for Barcelona’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Gerrard was unable to deliver the “continuous improvement” that Villa chief executive Christian Purslow demanded.
He has also been hampered by injuries to Diego Carlos, Boubacar Kamara and Lucas Digne, all of whom signed during his tenure.
Coutinho — brought in on a permanent deal from Barcelona after a loan spell last season — has been a major disappointment.
Gerrard, who played with the Brazilian at Liverpool, said the player would “go up another level” after signing a four-year deal but Coutinho has yet to score this season and looks a shadow of the footballer whom Barcelona paid £142 million ($158 million) for in 2018.
Gerrard’s former Liverpool team-mate Jamie Carragher said Gerrard’s experience at Villa was a harsh lesson in how difficult the transition into a coaching career can prove, no matter your credentials as a player.
“When you go into management, you know the price on the ticket — and if results are not right or whether the players are letting you down or not performing, it is the manager that carries the can,” he told Sky Sports News.
Coach Steven Gerrard looks dejected after the Premier League match between Aston Villa and Fulham at Craven Cottage in London on October 20, 2022.
| Photo Credit: AP
“That is always the case and that is the brutal part of football management.”
Villa, owned by billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, are reportedly prepared to pay one of the highest salaries in the Premier League to land a top replacement for Gerrard.
Former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the post, along with ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
Whether either of the two men could be persuaded to join a club in Villa’s perilous position remains to be seen.
Other contenders could include Villarreal coach Unai Emery, who has Premier League experience with Arsenal, and former Burnley boss Sean Dyche, a veteran of numerous relegation battles with the Clarets.