Twitter Reacts: Steven Gerrard leaves Rangers mid season to join Aston Villa

Craig Hanson 2 weeks ago
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The managerial merry-go-round shows no sign of stopping as the latest Premier League gap is now filled

Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard is returning to the Premier League, this time as manager of Aston Villa. He impressed during a three and a half year spell at Rangers, where he led the club to its 55th title and first since 2011, preventing Celtic from making it an historic 10 in a row in the process. Now Gerrard leaves the club four points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership and moves south to take over at relegation threatened Villa. Already this season, Newcastle United have sacked Steve Bruce and replaced him with Eddie Howe, Watford have sacked Xisco Munoz and brought in Claudio Ranieri, Spurs have replaced Nuno Espirito Santo with Antonio Conte, Norwich City have sacked Daniel Farke and are in search of a new manager, and now Aston Villa have brought in Steven Gerrard to replace Dean Smith. The managerial madness is in full flow as clubs at the top and bottom of the league desperately roll the dice in the hope of achieving positive results. Football is a ludicrous and ruthless business, especially during an Autumn international break.

While there is rightly scepticism in the air about Gerrard's appointment, few could play down his achievements north of the border  with a straight face. He ended what would have been a decade of domination by Rangers' greatest rivals and restored the club back to its former glory. Years prior, Rangers were forcibly relegated to the fourth tier of Scottish football and had to battle their way back up the divisions into the Scottish Premiership before securing two third place finishes behind Aberdeen and Champions Celtic. Then the club appointed Steven Gerrard, at that point unproven. His only experience had been working in the Liverpool academy and his only real selling point was a positive reference from Jurgen Klopp. That was enough for the Rangers board to take a chance on him and give him time to build. He repaid their faith in a huge way by winning the Scottish Premiership last season as part of a fantastic campaign for the club which saw them go the entire league season unbeaten and reach the last 16 of the Europa League for a second year running. Aside from the results on the pitch which have been very impressive, he also developed a whole raft of young players at the club, something which the hierarchy at Aston Villa have no doubt noticed.

The reaction of fans in Scotland has been mixed. Many Rangers fans are quick to pay tribute to Gerrard for the work he's done while urging the club to move on to appoint a successor quickly. There is understandably factions who feel slightly betrayed by the Englishman leaving mid way through the season, just as his former manager at Liverpool Brendan Rodgers did to Celtic. This frustration is heightened by the fact that changes in the UEFA coefficient table mean that the winner of the Scottish Premiership will receive automatic passage to next season's Champions League group stage. By leaving the club in the lurch in mid November, just as their rivals are starting to build momentum under their new coach Ange Postecoglou, Gerrard has increased the possibility that Rangers will fall short and lose the title to their rivals in a season when winning it couldn't be more important, financially and in terms of prestige. Then there's the matter of him taking his backroom staff with him. This is likely to cause even more disruption. If the Rangers board don't bring in an appropriate replacement fast, fans will rightly become increasingly worried and annoyed.

In England, Aston Villa fans seem to be generally positive about their new Head Coach on social media. However, there are some who are sceptical about Gerrard's record in Scotland and whether or not his success there will translate. Others point towards the example of the aforementioned Brendan Rodgers, who left Celtic to join Leicester City, where he has performed extremely well and put himself in the conversation for big jobs like Manchester United, Liverpool and Manchester City. Rodgers dominated in Scotland just as Gerrard has, and was then able to replicate that success south of the border. The key difference is that the Northern Irishman had already proved himself in the Premier League before joining Celtic, at Liverpool, where he took them the closest they'd come to a title in the modern era before the arrival of Jurgen Klopp. The Scottish Premiership may not be the same standard as the Premier League but Gerrard did transform a very poor, underperforming squad into one capable of dominating the league and competing respectably in Europe.

Villa fans will have to wait and see how their new Head Coach will get on in the coming months but Gerrard will hope he is given the same time and space he was afforded at Rangers. His first concern will be to arrest the slide experienced under outgoing coach Dean Smith which saw the Midlands club lose five on the bounce in the league. Their next two games after the international break will be a tough proving ground for the new man as Villa welcome Graham Potter's Brighton on Sat 20 November before visiting Patrick Viera's Crystal Palace the week after. Both young managers are doing a great job this season and will represent a real uptick in competition tactically for the former Liverpool captain. If Gerrard can secure some positive results from those two games, perhaps fans can start dreaming of finishing in a good position come next May.

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