If you were in Villa Park at full-time following a hugely disappointing 1-0 loss to relegation-threatened Watford, then you will be under no illusions about whether the honeymoon period at Aston Villa has finally come to an end for Steven Gerrard.
The response, whilst perhaps a bit over the top, was vociferous and strong from the Villa fans. In short, they expect a lot more from Gerrard with the players that he has at his disposal.
That, in itself, is a huge concern going forward given that it took time for Gerrard to enjoy success in the SPL with Rangers after winning the league in his third season in charge at Ibrox. In essence, the results at Villa aren’t going to change overnight with Gerrard in charge: his managerial approach is based on step-by-step changes rather than an instantaneous bounce.
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) February 19, 2022
Of course, results did initially improve after Dean Smith’s sudden sacking as Gerrard enjoyed four wins in his first six games in charge, but it has been slow going since with just one win in his last eight matches. As alluded to, the honeymoon period is well and truly over and the Aston Villa board are having to come to terms with the reality of Gerrard leading the club.
That’s not to say the 41-year-old’s appointment was a mistake, but it is becoming increasingly clear that their vision won’t, in the short-term at least, be matched by Gerrard as he goes about making the gradual changes that are a trademark of his management style.
The obvious problem with this is that the board and owners haven’t hidden their ambitions about wanting to qualify for European competition as soon as possible. These expectations have naturally filtered down to the fans and that is why you now have Gerrard being booed at the final whistle after just 14 games in charge at Villa Park.
"We've been booed off today and we deserve that" 😳
Steven Gerrard is NOT happy following Aston Villa's home defeat to Watford 😡 pic.twitter.com/hKPcuVmyxJ
— Sky Sports News (@SkySportsNews) February 19, 2022
Additionally, the frustrations are also slightly heightened as the Villa faithful thought that a top-six finish was a possibility as early as this season, especially after Gerrard picked up 12 points from a possible 18 when he first arrived.
Fast forward to late February and the club have slipped to odds of 100/1 to finish in the top six after falling more than 15 points adrift of those coveted positions.
Realistically speaking, it’s far more likely that Tottenham Hotspur will be the team to finish sixth, although the odds are indeed intriguing and full of value as far as the race for the last European place goes.
Remarkably, you have Spurs priced at 2/5, West Ham at 13/8 and Wolves 9/4. Bettors who think they have the inside scoop and know who will finish in the top six can use this BetMGM sportsbook Virginia bonus code and join the rest of the world in speculating about who the qualifying clubs will be. Alternatively, if it’s too close to call, then the $1,000 bonus can be used as a risk-free first bet on any Premier League fixtures.
Although understandably, the knowledgeable Aston Villa fans probably won’t be rushing to bet on their team anytime soon as they fail to deliver results and entertainment under Gerrard.
You do get the sense that the Liverpool legend’s time in Birmingham will be a demanding one as the season draws to a close. The gloves are off and Gerrard is burning through goodwill at a frightening rate. How will this end? Answers on a postcard, please.
By: Sam Roberts
Featured Image: @GabFoligno / Neville Williams – Getty Images