With Aston Villa struggling to match expectations and falling into the relegation battle a quarter of the way into the 2021-22 season, the Birmingham-based club moved quickly to sack Dean Smith, the manager who helped return them to the top flight in.
Now, they’re looking for a new manager. One who can steady the ship and point it back towards the top half of the table that had been the target heading into the campaign. And according to The Telegraph, Steven Gerrard is one of their top candidates.
According to the broadsheet, Gerrard’s connection to Villa chief exec Christian Purslow—the self-anointed Fernando Torres of finance who was managing director of the Reds in the final days of the Hicks and Gillett regime—sets him out as a favourite.
Also in the running are Southampton manager Ralph Hassenhuttl, Denmark national team coach Kasper Hjulmand, Brentford boss Thomas Frank, plus Paulo Fonseca and Lucien Favre—most recently seen managing Roma and Borussia Dortmund, respectively.
With Brentford and Southampton both currently ahead of Villa in the Premier League table, a move for either Hassenhuttl or Frank would seem rather curious, and the listing of Gerrard as a favourite alongside them has to raise similar question marks.
Currently, Gerrard’s title-defending Rangers are leading the Scottish Premiership and are in a battle to make it out of their Europa League group, and while Villa are arguably a bigger job it’s hard to imagine them as a final destination club for the ex-Red.
Some clubs can fairly be called final destinations for managers. Jobs that cannot be turned down. If Gerrard has another successful season at Rangers, though, there will be future opportunities at least as good as Aston Villa in a relegation scrap.
It will be interesting, then, to see what happens next at Villa—and whether they can land one of the already attached managers said to be amongst their targets, like Gerrard, Frank, or Hassenhuttl or if they in the end hire an unattached manager.