Tuesday, January 25, 2022

How Steven Gerrard Would Replicate His Rangers Masterclass At Aston Villa: A Comparative Analysis

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Pratyay Maitra
A sports enthusiast in his mid-twenties who reads, breathes, as well as dreams (mostly) about football and attempts to share his views with the fanatics by jotting it down. Prefers to learn through extensive interaction, communication and exploration. So don't be in a quandary and SHOOT.

It’s an exciting time ahead for the Aston Villa fans who now have a Premier League legend in charge following Dean Smith’s dismissal. Steven Gerrard’s herculean achievement at Rangers earned him the managerial role at Villa Park and his decision to part ways with the Glasgow giants is indeed a huge blow for the reigning Scottish champions.

Rangers‘ loss is Villa’s gain and now they would aim for a revival after five successive defeats. They are only a couple of points clear of the drop zone and the iconic Liverpudlian must script a quick turnaround to climb up the league ladder. His charisma and personality are unparalleled, however, it might not be the easiest of transitions given the competitiveness and quality of Premier League football.

The Claret & Blue Army failed to keep hold of Jack Grealish who left for Manchester City in a record £100m transfer. The amount was well invested in new names, but the impact Grealish had in the attacking third could not be replicated by Leon Bailey and Emiliano Buendia.

It’s not entirely their fault either. Both Buendia and Bailey are quite opposite in terms of playing style and attributes if compared to the Englishman. Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur underwent a similar phase in the post-Luis Suarez and Gareth Bale era and Villa, after finishing 11th last season, must overcome this dreadful run to aim for a top-half finish under the new gaffer.

New Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard and Gary McAllister during their Rangers days
MOTHERWELL, SCOTLAND – OCTOBER 31: Steven Gerrard, Head Coach of Rangers and his assistant Gary McAllister interact prior to the Cinch Scottish Premiership match between Motherwell FC and Rangers FC at Fir Park on October 31, 2021 in Motherwell, Scotland. (Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images). The 4th Official uses images provided by the following image agency: Getty Images (https://www.gettyimages.de/) and Imago Images (https://www.imago-images.de/)

Gerrard, meanwhile, might opt for his preferred 4-3-3 formation which earned him enormous success at Ibrox. Smith could not cope up with Grealish’s exit and his experiment with formations failed miserably. But they still have a decent set of players who would benefit from a fresh start in the aftermath of the international break.

Comparison Of The Current Aston Villa Players With Key Rangers Stars

The ex-Gers boss made some smart signings and improved an array of young prospects significantly during his Light Blues realm. Players with a high work ethic, commitment and vision would get the nod over renowned stars to execute the passing and pressing football.

Tyrone Mings might play the Connor Goldson role in deep defence, whereas Ezri Konsa and Kortney Hause are likely to be rotated. Right-back Matty Cash has to be more adventurous like James Tavernier and whip in frequent crosses for Danny Ings and Ollie Watkins. Bailey has the pace and power to make an impact like Ryan Kent from the left-hand flank, and the free role of Joe Aribo should be handed to young and dynamic Jacob Ramsey at the centre of the pitch. John McGinn holds the traits to produce the technicality of Glen Kamara and the composure of Douglas Luiz needs to be utilized from the base of their three-man midfield.

Having said that, Gerrard must find a way to deploy Ings and Watkins together. Both of them are outright ‘number 9’ options and it is to be seen now how he handles the challenge and implements his philosophy in due time.

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