Aston Villa have announced Steven Gerrard will join the club as head coach with immediate effect. And with the Midlands side on a five-match losing streak, the former Rangers manager will hope to inspire an immediate upturn in form.
Villa’s defeat to Southampton last weekend saw the side dismiss Dean Smith on Sunday; the 50-year-old had been at the helm with Villa for just over three years.
Smith’s team have struggled for much of the season, with Villa struggling to adjust to the loss of former captain Jack Grealish, who was sold to Manchester City in the summer. Villa have mustered just three victories so far in the Premier League this season, with the side currently 16th in the table.
Gerrard’s first game in charge is at Villa Park will come on the first Saturday after the international break, with the hosts taking on a Brighton side currently enjoying an excellent season under Graham Potter.
The current match betting shows that Villa are 33/20 to take the win, with the draw a 47/20 shot. Those dubious about Gerrard’s ability to inspire an instant new manager bounce can back the Seagulls to win at 17/10.
After that tricky first match against Brighton, the following fixtures scarcely offer much respite for the new manager. Villa’s next matches will come against Crystal Palace, who have impressed under Patrick Vieira, and Manchester City, the current favs to win the Premier League.
With games against old manager Brendan Rodgers as he takes on Leicester in early December, and then an encounter against his old team Liverpool to follow that, there’s little let-up in the intensity.
And after his impressive success in Scotland, it will be intriguing to see if Gerrard can inspire his new players in similar fashion.
After that troubled start to the campaign, Villa are 33/1 for a top six finish, if you take a particularly optimistic view – last season the side finished 11th in the Prem.
As for Gerrard’s former club, Rangers currently top the standings with 30 points after 13 games played, with the side four points clear of their nearest rivals. The side remain 11/20 favs to win the title this season.
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