Football: Gerrard sacked by struggling Villa after Fulham defeat

Steven Gerrard paid the price for Villa’s wretched start to the season. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON – Former Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino has been tipped to replace the sacked Steven Gerrard at Aston Villa, according to multiple media reports.

Gerrard The 42-year-old was axed less than two hours after his struggling side crashed to a dismal 3-0 Premier League defeat at Fulham on Thursday. He paid the price for Villa’s wretched start to the season, which sees the club languishing just one place above the relegation zone.

Pochettino, who was considered for the Manchester United hot seat in the summer before the Red Devils appointed Erik ten Hag, is currently out of a job after he was sacked by Paris Saint-Germain in July.

However, the Argentinian is reportedly holding out for a return to Tottenham, who have Antonio Conte at the helm.

Villa have won only two of their 11 league matches this term and their tame surrender at Craven Cottage proved the final straw for the club’s hierarchy, as they axed Gerrard after just 11 months in charge. The manager and his players were booed off at full time by Villa’s furious fans after the loss at Fulham extended their winless run to four matches.

“Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement said. “We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”

Speaking after the Fulham game, Gerrard had vowed to save his job.

“I’m a fighter, I will never, ever quit anything whether it’s football or in life. I’ll continue to fight unless I’m told differently,” he said.

But just minutes after he had spoken to the media, Villa announced his sacking.

The former Liverpool captain won the Scottish title with Rangers in 2021, ending Celtic’s long period of dominance.

He led Villa to a 14th-place finish last term after arriving from Rangers to replace the sacked Dean Smith last November on a three-and-a-half year contract. He was expected to push Villa higher up the table this season, but instead he leaves with the club firmly embroiled in a relegation battle.

Villa’s chief executive Christian Purslow spoke at the time of Gerrard taking the team to the next level, but the reality is the Midlands club are in worse shape than they were under Smith.

When Smith, who led Villa back to the top flight in 2019, was fired after three years in charge, Villa were 16th in the table with 10 points from 11 matches. Under Gerrard this season, they have nine from 11 and he led them to only 12 wins in 38 Premier League matches.

While his exit was not exactly surprising, the speed of it was.

Leicester City manager Brendan Rodgers, who was Gerrard’s manager at Liverpool, said he was “bitterly disappointed” at the news.

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

Gerrard is the fourth Premier League manager to lose his job this season after Scott Parker (Bournemouth), Thomas Tuchel (Chelsea) and Bruno Lage (Wolves).

Villa captain John McGinn said the players needed to take responsibility for the situation.

“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,” he said.

Besides Pochettino, Tuchel is also linked to the Villa job. Other contenders could include Villarreal coach Unai Emery, who had Premier League experience with Arsenal, Brentford boss Thomas Frank, and former Burnley boss Sean Dyche. AFP, REUTERS

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