5 things Steven Gerrard has to achieve at Aston Villa to prove himself to Liverpool


Former Liverpool captain Gerrard will take on his old club as a manager for the first time when he brings his Aston Villa side to Anfield for their Premier League clash on Saturday

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As Steven Gerrard makes his return to Anfield as a manager, the former Liverpool captain can give the club food for thought much sooner than some might have expected.

With Jurgen Klopp under contract until the end of the 2023-24 season, there is no urgent need to make plans for the German’s departure, but many have sung the praises of Gerrard as a potential successor.

See also  Jurgen Klopp's advice to Steven Gerrard as he embarks on Aston Villa role

Gerrard told reporters he will take his side to Anfield “with confidence and belief” after a fast start, with last weekend’s victory over Leicester making it three wins from four, but few expect him to use this game alone as an audition for the Liverpool job further down the line.

Rather, the level to which he impresses his former club will depend on a number of his achievements at Villa Park, and Mirror Football has identified five things the 41-year-old needs to do.

Gerrard has made an impressive start at Aston Villa


Action Images via Reuters)

Show he understands the club culture

Understanding what it takes to play for a club is one thing, but knowing what it takes to manage one is something different altogether.

Gerrard recognised Rangers fans demanded success while in charge at Ibrox, and his comments and achievements in tandem helped him develop a winning culture with the Scottish club which felt genuine even before the Gers’ title win.

While Villa fans are under no illusions about competing for trophies immediately, they are a group who will want to see progress under a manager who knows his history and knows how to conduct himself both on the training ground and as the public face of the club.

Part of this will also be making it clear he is Aston Villa manager because he wants to achieve things with Aston Villa, not simply so he can use the role as a stepping stone.

Some aspects of a football club might be fluid, not least their achievements on the pitch, but there are other unchanging elements the best managers will recognise quickly and use to their advantage.

There are some things about Liverpool which Gerrard won’t need to be taught, but that doesn’t mean an understanding of Villa’s culture won’t mark him out as someone who has a future at the highest level.

Bring through young talents

Gerrard has put his trust in young midfielder Jacob Ramsey



Gerrard’s own playing career began when he was given an opportunity to impress by Gerard Houllier in the late 90s.

Then just 18 years old, he was not the first academy product to get a run in the first-team at Anfield, and he is far from the last.

Klopp has been similarly trusting of the Reds’ local talents, bringing through the likes of Trent Alexander-Arnold, Curtis Jones and Tyler Morton, and a similar approach is something Gerrard shouldn’t have to work too hard to pick up.

The process has already begun at Villa Park, with Midlands-born Jacob Ramsey earning starts under the new manager and teenager Carney Chukwuemeka also being handed minutes in the Premier League.

Show some savvy in the transfer market

Liverpool’s recent success has required a blend of academy talent and investment in new signings, with both playing significant parts.

This hasn’t always been big-money ‘missing piece of the jigsaw’ signings like Alisson and Virgil van Dijk – indeed, the Reds’ recruitment from relegated clubs has also served the club well, with Andy Robertson and Gini Wijnaldum prime examples.

Gerrard’s first transfer window with Villa is coming up in a matter of weeks, and will allow us to get a glimpse of his plans while demonstrating how much he has gleaned about his squad in a short space of time.

Indeed, deciding who to sell and who to hold onto can be just as important as determining who to bring in.

Demonstrate he can keep a squad happy

Liverpool have often got the best out of fringe players



Klopp’s impressive achievements at Liverpool owe a lot to his relationship with the players at his disposal, from the regular starters to those called upon as backups.

The famous Champions League comeback against Barcelona owed a lot to fringe players Divock Origi and Xherdan Shaqiri contributing while others were absent, and getting performances out of second-string players requires solid man-management and the kind of personable presence which any Liverpool manager can benefit from.

Gerrard’s communication with his Villa squad has been lauded by the players, with midfielder Marvelous Nakamba among those to benefit from a more prominent role after some time on the fringes under Dean Smith.

However, there’s always a honeymoon period with a new boss when everyone on the playing staff is eager to impress. The question is whether Gerrard can keep this going months and years down the line.

Begin to challenge for trophies

Gerrard won the Champions League and both domestic cups as a Liverpool player


Colin Lane/Liverpool Echo)

Villa have gone 25 years since their last major domestic trophy, winning the League Cup in 1996, so not everyone will consider silverware an immediate target for Gerrard.

However, they reached the final of the same tournament in 2020, losing to Manchester City in the final, and have the foundations on which to build.

Liverpool managers will be expected to fight for glory, and a number of appointments – like Klopp and Rafa Benitez – have arrived after notable successes of their own away from Anfield.

A cup win might not be a necessity if Gerrard wants to put himself forward as the leading candidate to succeed Klopp if and when he moves on, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.

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