It’s been around six months now since Steven Gerrard made the leap of faith to Premier League management — swapping the Ibrox dugout for Villa Park as he abandoned his role at Rangers mid-season after ending the Glasgow side’s 10-year Scottish Premiership title drought to replace the sacked Dean Smith at Aston Villa.
It certainly hasn’t always been plain-sailing for Gerrard in the midlands, but when you compare what he is doing at Villa to what his old, on-field rival Frank Lampard is doing at Everton, there is only one winner in that debate.
That is easily said though. Both men have been tasked with completely different circumstances, but in a sink or swim situation, Gerrard has proved he’s the latter.
The work Gerrard and his team have done at Villa thus far is admirable to say the least. The former Liverpool captain was written off before he even took his first training session, with Villa’s chances of relegation plummeting in the football odds.
But he’s propped them back up the table and fears of falling through the trap door appear to be nothing more than a distant memory.
Just how well has Gerrard really done in the last five or six months at Villa Park though? Let’s take a look by analysing his true impact.
So often managers benefit from a ‘honeymoon period’ when they take over a new club midway through the season, and Gerrard certainly got off to a fast start with Villa — losing just four of his first 11 games in charge, with three of those defeats coming against Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
After Villa drew 3-3 with Leeds United in Gerrard’s 11th game at the helm, he had taken the Birmingham-based side from 16th in the table to 11th and extended their gap from their relegation zone from two points to a much healthier 10.
Perhaps the second biggest factor, after that fine run of form, has been 41-year-old’s pull in the transfer window.
In January, the ‘Gerrard effect’ at Villa was on display for everybody to see — with Philippe Coutinho, his former teammate at Liverpool, opting to come to Villa Park on loan from Barcelona as he looked to revive his career, while Lucas Digne joined from Everton despite interest from more fashionable sides.
While the French left-back arguably hasn’t made as big of an impact as Gerrard would have hoped, the same can’t be said about Coutinho.
The little magician hit the ground running back in the Premier League, scoring on his Villa debut in a 2-2 draw against Manchester United and has gone on to pick up a further three goals and three assists.
While we’ve talked about the positives of Gerrard’s tenure, there is one major negative — inconsistency has slipped in since that impressive start. The demanding Liverpudlian will not be happy that his side have won just three of their last nine games, with the other six matches ending in defeats.
Those three wins came in succession as well, with Villa beating Brighton, Southampton and Leeds after losing to Newcastle and Watford back-to-back — which was enough to climb up to ninth in the table.
But, at the time of writing, they have suffered four straight defeats against West Ham United, Arsenal, Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur.
Topsy-turvy runs like that are something Gerrard and his team will want to iron out before starting afresh next season.