Aston Villa are on the hunt for a new manager after relieving Steven Gerrard of his duties after just under a year in the post.
The Villa board have decided to bite the bullet with the 42-year-old Liverpool legend following a dismal 3-0 defeat to Fulham at Craven Cottage, with the club sat in 17th place in the Premier League with just one win from their opening 11 matches.
bet365’s Steve Freeth said: "There must be something in the water in the West Midlands with Villa joining Wolves and West Brom in searching for a new manager!
"The appointment of Steven Gerrard was heralded by many as a major coup, but unfortunately for both parties it hasn’t worked out and now the club’s attentions turn to his replacement."
Teetering on the edge of the relegation zone, with only goal difference sparing them, former Rangers boss Gerrard struggled to get a tune out of this Aston Villa side with supporters also dissatisfied with the brand of football on display.
Ex-Burnley boss Sean Dyche is next in the running at 7/2, with Mauricio Pochettino and Thomas Frank both priced at .
Taking over at Villa Park after guiding Rangers to a record 55th league title in an unbeaten season, Gerrard was tasked with elevating the Midlands club into the top-half of the Premier League.
Enjoying a positive start, with four wins in his opening six Premier League matches, Villa endured a disappointing end to the last campaign. Finishing in 14th place following a run of just two wins from their final 11 games, this close to last season perhaps foreshadowed what was to come this term.
The departure of trusted assistant manager Michael Beale, who left to take up the reins as manager at Queens Park Rangers in the summer, was undoubtedly a significant moment. Beale has been widely heralded as a master tactician, and his coaching expertise was leaned on heavily by Gerrard as a young manager.
Replaced by ex-Blackpool boss Neil Critchley, Villa have been unable to make any headway in this Premier League campaign so far with just nine points from their opening 11 games. Beale’s contrasting fortunes at QPR, with the Championship side sitting top of the table after 15 games, perhaps indicates how integral a part of Gerrard’s coaching team he really was.
Goals have been particularly hard to come by for the Villans, registering just seven in the Premier League so far this season. Only 17th-placed Wolves have mustered a lower total in what has proved a source of frustration for supporters.
Injuries have undoubtedly played a big part in Gerrard’s struggle to get to grips with this Villa side, with both marquee summer signings Diego Carlos and Boubacar Kamara ruled out with long-term injuries.
In spite of such blows, Villa undoubtedly have a squad capable of achieving much better results in the Premier League, with any flirtation with relegation inexcusable considering the level of quality within their ranks.
Whoever replaces Gerrard as Aston Villa manager will first be tasked with stabilising the club in the Premier League, and veering them away from the relegation zone.
With a squad comprised of players who would be welcome at a majority of Premier League clubs - such as goalkeeper Emi Martinez, full-backs Matty Cash and Lucas Digne, midfielders John McGinn, Philippe Coutinho and Jacob Ramsey, and strikers Ollie Watkins and Danny Ings – the new manager will have a solid foundation from which to build from.
The Villa board’s ambition is no secret, with Gerrard having overseen a transfer expenditure of around £90m during his 11-month tenure. The new boss is likely to be backed similarly, and given the opportunity to bring in their own players to help install their coaching philosophy.
With the Villans’ problems in front of goal the most glaring concern on the park at present, perhaps a more attacking tactical approach going forward is in order to help turn around the team’s fortunes in the Premier League this season.
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