Steven Gerrard is a born winner – that, we will all agree on.
Dropping won’t ever suffice for the person who gained two FA Cups, a UEFA Cup and a Champions League (amongst different titles) as a participant for Liverpool and, in fact, the Scottish Premiership with Rangers final season.
That perspective has clearly been transferred into his latest position as Aston Villa head coach, the place he started by successful his first two outings – a 2-0 win over Brighton earlier than beating Crystal Palace 2-1.
Whereas these two fixtures introduced sturdy exams towards groups Villa have to be pulling forward of in the event that they’re to progress beneath their new boss (exams which he handed), his third outing was towards a distinct beast altogether.
In opposition to an irrepressible Manchester Metropolis – who evidently have critical ambitions of lastly attaining a Premier League and Champions League double – there was little expectation of Gerrard changing into the primary Villa boss in historical past to win his first three video games in cost.
The house followers had been, because it turned out, proper to be pushed extra by hope than expectation on the evening, finally losing 2-1 to a devastating Metropolis facet. Their dominant high quality grew to become evident throughout the opening two minutes, by which period the guests had two clear-cut alternatives to drag forward.
In fact, the primary half was utter domination. The staggering management, composure and ruthlessness contained inside each side of Pep Guardiola’s facet’s play merely overwhelmed Villa.
Because of this, by the midway level, Metropolis had been 2-0 up. The primary aim was a results of the overloads on the wings, giving Raheem Sterling the chance and subsequent confidence to run his full-back ragged and finally pull again for Ruben Dias to attain.
The second aim was born out of a stunning incoherence in Villa’s collective urgent and a defensive imbalance. Clearly making an attempt to point out initiative and press excessive up the pitch, Gerrard’s males had been undone with three passes from field to field.
Ryiad Mahrez wriggled out of a good spot and launched the ball to Fernandinho, who in flip despatched a raking ball into the channel for Gabriel Jesus, who then lofted an ideal cross into the trail of Bernardo Silva to complete with a beautiful first-time volley.
Increase. The right counter assault, made to look easy and simple on account of Villa’s incongruous defensive shapes.
You are most likely questioning the place on earth the positives might be discovered, proper?
Properly, these would seem all through the second half.
Clearly popping out for the second interval with an amended form, an altered perspective and an added depth, it was the house facet who dominated for giant elements.
It took the hosts beneath 90 seconds to get again into the sport courtesy of a superb Ollie Watkins end. Thereafter, City could have continued to benefit from the lion’s share of possession, nevertheless it was Villa who seemed the extra threatening.
Douglas Luiz was pulled right into a wider space to, firstly, stifle the broad menace of Joao Cancelo and Mahrez, and secondly, discover more room to stamp his inventive mark on proceedings. The Brazilian was key to Villa’s dominance within the second interval, spreading play beautifully and finally leaving the sphere with 5 key passes to his identify – together with the help to the aforementioned Watkins strike.
The opposite vital tweaks proved to be shifting the broad forwards nearer to Watkins, permitting Villa far more alternative for management when firing the ball into their frontman and due to this fact the instruments to construct play a lot greater up the pitch.
Whereas Marvelous Nakamba was sitting deep earlier than the interval, he was urgent aggressively through the second half, for instance, due to this fact taking the sport to Metropolis reasonably than inviting strain.
Usually talking, half time was the turning level within the match. It confirmed that Gerrard is aware of what he is doing at this degree and, really, is ready to compete with one of the best on the earth.
His decisive and courageous administration fully altered the momentum of Wednesday evening’s conflict and, had been it not for teenager Carney Chukwuemeka fluffing his strains when one-on-one with Ederson, the Villans would most certainly have been celebrating some extent towards the Champions.
Alas, it wasn’t to be. However the truth that Villa can really feel disappointment at a slim 2-1 defeat to this Metropolis facet is proof of the development and shift already occurring beneath Gerrard – and Wednesday evening supplied many extra positives to take from Villa’s new regime.