Aston Villa have sacked manager Steven Gerrard
London (AFP) - Steven Gerrard was sacked as Aston Villa manager less than two hours after his struggling side crashed to a dismal 3-0 defeat at Fulham on Thursday.
Gerrard paid the price for Villa’s wretched start to the season, which sees the club languishing just one place above the Premier League relegation zone.
Villa have won only two of their 11 league matches this term and their tame surrender at Craven Cottage proved the final straw for the club’s hierarchy as they axed Gerrard after just 11 months in charge.
Gerrard and his players had been booed off at full-time by Villa’s furious fans after the loss at Fulham extended their winless run to four matches.
“Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement said.
“We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”
Gerrard led Villa to a 14th-place finish last term after arriving from Rangers to replace the sacked Dean Smith last November on a three-and-a-half year contract.
The former Liverpool and England star was expected to push Villa higher up the table this season, but instead he leaves with the club firmly embroiled in a relegation battle.
Gerrard won the Scottish title with Rangers in 2021, ending Celtic’s long period of dominance.
But he has been unable to build on that impressive work since moving to Villa Park, failing to win over the club’s supporters with some lacklustre performances.
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Despite being given significant transfer backing, including a swoop for Barcelona’s Brazilian playmaker Philippe Coutinho, Gerrard was unable to deliver the “continuous improvement” that Villa chief executive Christian Purslow demanded.
Gerrard was also hit by injuries to summer signings Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara, as well as left-back Lucas Digne.
Speaking at his post-match press conference after the Fulham game, Gerrard had vowed to save his job.
“I’m a fighter, I will never, ever quit anything whether it’s football or in life. We will see what happens. I’ll continued to fight unless I’m told differently,” he said.
But just minutes after Gerrard had spoken to the media, Villa announced his sacking.
Gerrard won just 13 of his 40 games in charge of Villa, losing 19 of those matches.
It is a major blow to Gerrard’s managerial career after the Liverpool legend was tipped as a potential long-term successor to current Reds boss Jurgen Klopp following his success with Rangers.
Now Gerrard must bide his time as he waits for an opportunity to rehabilitate a reputation tarnished by his disappointing spell with Villa.
Villa, owned by billionaires Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, are reportedly prepared to pay one of the highest salaries in the Premier League to land a top replacement for Gerrard.
Former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the post, along with ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel.
Whether Pochettino or Tuchel could be persuaded to join a club in Villa’s perilous position remains to be seen.
Other contenders could include Villarreal coach Unai Emery, who had Premier League experience with Arsenal, and former Burnley boss Sean Dyche, a veteran of numerous relegation battles with the Clarets.
Villa midfielder John McGinn insisted Gerrard wasn’t to blame for the team’s plight.
“It’s embarrassing to be part of. We’ve let the travelling fans down and let the manager down,” McGinn said.
“It doesn’t matter who is in charge of that team. It’s nothing to do with the manager – the players have to look at themselves in the mirror.
“The support are very demanding. You’re playing at a top level and if you’re not performing, you get criticised.”