Steven Gerrard to Aston Villa: ‘A gamble with risk on both sides’

Gerrard played 710 times for Liverpool, winning nine trophies during a 19-year playing career that also saw him win 114 England caps

Aston Villa’s swift and slick appointment of Rangers manager Steven Gerrard as successor to the sacked Dean Smith suggests this was a deal that did not require a great deal of persuasion on either side.

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow knows Gerrard well from his time as Liverpool managing director and the club immediately made him their number one target, having had their admiration reaffirmed by his work in Glasgow, winning Rangers’ first title in a decade.

Gerrard, meanwhile, had no hesitation in returning to the Premier League with Villa, a club of stability and ambition where he will be guaranteed financial support from owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

Rangers have discovered, as Celtic did before them when Brendan Rodgers moved to Leicester City after huge success at Parkhead, that even the Old Firm cannot complete with the lure of England’s top flight.

So Gerrard takes the next step in his managerial and coaching career at a club where his reputation and career wins him instant respect and adulation – but there is a lot riding on this for both parties.

Gerrard is far too smart to allow himself to be painted as someone using Villa as a stepping stone and anyone who doubts his total commitment for every second of any task does not know him – but everyone does know his ultimate goal is to manage Liverpool.

This, however, hardly spells bad news for Villa because this fiercely ambitious character will be focusing all his energies on his new job. Do not believe for one minute he will be thinking about Liverpool at any point during his time at Villa, unless they are in opposition.

And if he is to eventually end up back at Anfield, he will surely need to be a success at Villa Park to get there.

Gerrard could have stayed at Ibrox and been revered and successful but has accepted the tougher, more exacting examination of his credentials in the Premier League.

This will be the more accurate measure of his standing and it is a reflection of the 41-year-old’s drive and ambition that he has taken this option, with all the…

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