Old friend Carragher thinks it’d be a ‘great move’, legend Laudrup wants him to stay and Celtic favourite Sutton expects an exit… so, is it time for Steven Gerrard to leave Rangers and join Aston Villa?
- Steven Gerrard is Aston Villa’s No 1 target to replace Dean Smith as manager
- Nerves are now jangling at Ibrox after interest from the Midlands became solid
- Gerrard’s close friend and ex-team-mate Jamie Carragher says he should take it
- Brian Laudrup warns that it is rare for the best managers to move mid-season
- The ceiling is low at Villa and there is only so far to go, says Danny Murphy
It was only last month that Steven Gerrard was being linked with the Newcastle job in the wake of their £300million takeover by a Saudi-led consortium.
The Rangers manager, following his side’s Europa League victory over Brondby, was asked to address the speculation that he was in the running to replace the departed Steve Bruce on Tyneside.
‘Do I look happy? Do I look settled? Don’t ask me silly questions then,’ he responded.
Yet it appears that Aston Villa are now next in line to ask him a ‘silly question’ — and test his resolve to stay at Ibrox.
Steven Gerrard (left) is Aston Villa’s No 1 choice to replace Dean Smith (right) as manager
Dean Smith was relieved of his duties at the weekend and, with Villa just two points off the drop zone, a quick appointment looks on the cards as the club owners seek an immediate impact.
That Gerrard’s name is continually linked to vacancies down south should come as no surprise given his standing as a former England and Liverpool captain, plus the success he had in his first managerial job by winning the Scottish Premiership title last season.
There is little doubt he will eventually return to manage in England. But is the Villa job really the one to tempt him? Here, some big names attempt to answer that particular question…
Gerrard has enjoyed great success in Scotland and delivered the league title back to Ibrox
BRIAN LAUDRUP (RANGERS 1994-98)
The first thing I would say about Aston Villa’s interest in Steven Gerrard is the same as when he was linked with Newcastle.
It’s great for the image of Scottish football to have one of its managers being talked about for the English Premier League.
Otherwise, though, I see a number of issues. If you look at the best managers in the world, it is quite rare for them to go to a team midway through the season.
It’s not unheard of. Look at Antonio Conte and Tottenham. But it is relatively rare.
My brother, Michael, always said if you wanted to achieve something then you couldn’t do it by coming into a job halfway through a season. You can’t change that much, you don’t have a pre-season to prepare things and you probably can’t buy many of the players you want.
Brian Laudrup heaped praise on Gerrard but talked up the risks of joining a club mid-season
It’s definitely not a win-win situation.
I’d be surprised if Gerrard went to Aston Villa at this point. I’d hope he would stay at Ibrox for the rest of this season.
After that? If the interest from down south is still there, he might feel it is time to move on, accept a new challenge and get closer to his family. I can’t see it right now but I might be wrong. Only Gerrard knows.
He has shown loyalty towards Rangers over his time in charge, but the club has also shown huge loyalty to him since first offering that chance to take his first step in management.
Listen, Gerrard paid them back by delivering the title last season but I still see unfinished business in the current campaign — another title, the Scottish Cup, the League Cup. There is a chance to get Rangers into the Champions League, with all the huge benefits it would bring to a club which last week posted a £23.5million loss.
There are so many things still in front of him for the next six or seven months. I’d like to think his focus will stay at Ibrox over that period.
DANNY MURPHY (PLAYED WITH GERRARD FOR LIVERPOOL AND ENGLAND)
I would be very surprised, very surprised if he was to leave Rangers to join Villa.
Not because Villa isn’t a great club but there’s only so far that you can take them. The ceiling is low.
It doesn’t matter what Aston Villa’s owners (Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens) think. Thought and reality are two different things.
Danny Murphy says a club like Villa can only be taken so far and have a ceiling of achievement
I’m talking from Gerrard’s position and if you’re asking me about his mentality, I would suggest that he wants to be at the top of the tree in management in terms of competing for leagues and Champions Leagues and winning European trophies. At Rangers, he’s trying to win titles and win the Europa League.
I think, as I’ve said before, his ultimate ambition is to manage Liverpool and is there another stepping stone between Rangers and Liverpool?
I’m not so sure there is.
JAMIE CARRAGHER (PLAYED WITH GERRARD FOR LIVERPOOL AND ENGLAND)
I think Aston Villa as a club would be a great move for Steven Gerrard.
But the situation he finds himself in right now is that he took the title away from Celtic last season, and he’s in a great position to win it again.
I think, in a perfect world, you’d want to stay at Rangers to the end of the season and come away from there with two titles.
Close friend Jamie Carragher feels Villa is the best possible offer for his former team-mate
I mean, this is not something coming from Steven Gerrard, but I think sooner or later, there’s going to be a great chance Steven Gerrard is going to come to the Premier League.
But for me, it’s a difficult one.
If he got offered the Aston Villa job, I don’t think there would be many jobs in the Premier League which he would get offered (that are) better than that.
People talk about Liverpool, and that might be another two or three years with Jurgen Klopp but you’re not going to get any jobs better, so it would be a decision for him.
But, in a perfect world, I think Steven Gerrard wants to come away from Rangers with another couple of trophies.
Carragher admits Gerrard would likely only want to leave Rangers if he wins more silverware
CHRIS SUTTON (CELTIC 2000-06)
If you’re asking me if he was offered the job, would he take it? I think he would.
He’s done a really excellent job at Rangers, stopping Celtic winning ten in a row. A huge, huge deal.
Rangers posted enormous losses just a few days ago. I just wonder…He’s been up there a long time now, three years. I think he’s done exceptionally well in Europe, if you look at his team last season I don’t think it is as good this season.
Celtic hero turned pundit Chris Sutton says Villa would be an ideal side for Gerrard to learn
Eventually Steven Gerrard will come down south and of course the talk is he’ll end up at Liverpool.
There needs to be… I don’t want to call Aston Villa a stepping stone because they’re an enormous club, but he needs to learn his trade at a club like Aston Villa. I think, in truth, you manage Celtic, you manage Rangers, and it has a shelf life.
I just wonder if Steven Gerrard has come to the end of his shelf life. If he’s offered the job, I’m pretty sure he’d take it.
BARRY FERGUSON (1997-2003, 2005-09)
Aston Villa, in the last couple of transfer windows, they’ve spent over £100million each window. There is the difference.
My honest opinion: I think he himself will think, to go down there (to England), he still needs to win more trophies.
At some stage, he is going to leave, but I don’t think it’s now with the two jobs that have come up over the last few weeks, Newcastle and Aston Villa. I don’t think now is the right time and I believe Steven Gerrard thinks that as well.
Rangers icon Barry Ferguson (centre) feels Gerrard wants to win more trophies before leaving
In my opinion, he believes he needs to win or get more trophies before he makes that step to the Premier League, because it is going to happen.
All Rangers fans have got to be realistic and know it will happen some time. But at this moment in time, I don’t think it will.
One trophy in nine. That’s the reason why I think he will stay, to go and get more. He knows he needs to add to his collection and try and retain the league.
Then, his stock is even higher.
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