Steven Gerrard: Aston Villa sack manager after heavy defeat at Fulham

By BBC Sport

Aston Villa have sacked manager Steven Gerrard following Thursday’s 3-0 Premier League defeat at Fulham.

Villa have won just twice in the league this season and only sit above the relegation zone on goals scored.

A club spokesman said: “We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”

Gerrard succeeded Dean Smith as Villa manager in November 2021 after leaving his role at Rangers.

But the former England and Liverpool midfielder, 42, led Villa to only 13 wins from 40 games during his 11 months in charge.

After the defeat by Fulham, he told BBC Match of the Day: “Inconsistency has cost us, that’s the position we find ourselves in. I took over the team in a very similar situation. We’ve tried to recruit to get us out of that situation.

“I’m a fighter – it’s in my DNA. I’ll continue to fight unless I’m told differently.”

About an hour later his time as Villa boss was over.

Before Gerrard’s departure was revealed, captain John McGinn said: “It’s embarrassing to be part of. We’ve let the travelling fans down, the manager down. It’s a bad night for us.

“It doesn’t matter who’s in charge of that team. It’s nothing to do with the manager – the players have to look at themselves in the mirror. We’ve definitely not lost faith in [the manager] – it’s us who are responsible.

“He’s a top manager, he’s hurting just as the players are. We’ve let him down tonight. It’s up to us now to put in a performance for him.”

Villa fans sang various anti-Gerrard chants during the game at Craven Cottage.

McGinn added: “I understand the fans’ frustration. There can be a nasty side to those shouts. The support are very demanding so I can understand the frustration. You’re playing at a top level and if you’re not performing, you get criticised.”

In Gerrard’s time at Villa he signed some high-profile players including Barcelona forward Phillipe Coutinho, Sevilla defender Diego Carlos and French midfielder Boubacar Kamara, who had been linked with some of Europe’s top sides.

However, Carlos suffered a serious ankle injury on his home debut and Kamara is expected to be out until the new year with a knee ligament injury sustained against Southampton last month.

In the summer Gerrard removed England defender Tyrone Mings as captain and replaced him with Scotland’s McGinn – who has made a poor start to the season.

Gerrard’s assistant Michael Beale, who had been with him since Rangers, left Villa in the summer to become QPR manager.

Gerrard, who played 710 times for Liverpool, took his first steps in senior management with Rangers in 2018 and guided the club to their first Scottish Premiership title in 10 years.

Prior to that, he coached within Liverpool’s academy before managing the under-18 team during the 2017-18 season.

Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers, who has also been under pressure recently, managed Gerrard at Liverpool.

“I’m bitterly disappointed for Steven, he did a fantastic job at Rangers and the ambitions at Villa, I assume, are to be challenging for Europe,” Rodgers said.

“It seems every day a manager loses his job or their job is under threat. I think stability and patience seems to be running out.

“I believe with time and patience he could have got to where that football club wants to go.”


Phil McNulty, chief football writer

Gerrard’s position had been precarious for weeks, with poor results adding to the uneasy nature of his relationship with Villa’s support, who surprisingly simply never warmed to a personality who had deservedly won a reputation as an inspirational leader during a stellar career as Liverpool captain and at Ibrox, where he achieved iconic status for stopping Celtic winning 10 titles in a row.

Villa’s supporters were not only unhappy with results but also what they saw as an unattractive style of play fostered by Gerrard and his backroom staff. There seemed to be no settled formation or identity, even the occasional good performance such as that against Chelsea at Villa Park on Sunday ending in defeat.

Gerrard found himself in the unusual position of having to win over sceptical Villa fans having been idolised at Anfield and Ibrox. It was a battle he never won.

For all his blockbusting playing style and natural leadership, Gerrard can be an introspective character who cares and thinks deeply and takes defeat personally. He will be badly hurt by this experience, alien territory for someone who has been synonymous with success throughout his career.

Gerrard will no doubt be back at some point in the future with a determination to correct a rare failure on his CV, although where and when that will be remains to be seen.

Villa, meanwhile, will set sights high as they try to find the manager who will match their owners’ desire for success.

Read more from Phil McNulty here.

‘Players getting away with not performing’

Former Brighton and Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live.

Before Gerrard’s sacking was announced, he said: “The players that Gerrard has brought in are of a better quality than Dean Smith brought in but unfortunately for him, they are not hitting the heights that we know they are capable of.

“No-one has scored more than one goal for them which, with the attacking prowess they’ve got, is a very disappointing return.

“A lot of the players are getting away with not performing and everyone is looking at the manager.”

Ex-Villa striker Dion Dublin said on Amazon Prime: “I am finding it hard to find a positive. I feel for Stevie.

“The Villa faithful will always back you but they will let you know. The fans are allowed to voice their opinion.”

Former Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand added: “He was captain marvel as a player; he was the one who lifted the team, who dragged them through tough times. He can’t do that from the bench.”