Season 2021/2022, Southampton push Villa over the edge – to Gerrard, and then?

In hindsight, it was to everyone’s benefit that the culmination of Villa’s calamitous string of bad form occurred many miles away from Villa Park.  Sure, there were our impressive traveling fans who somehow find ways to sustain each other, despite what happens on the field. On this Friday evening, they had little else. 

Ordinary fans had other weekend games to distract and home chores before they heard that the other foot had dropped on Sunday. Dean Smith was informed by Christian Purslow that he was being removed from his management role.

The initial malaise the news caused was quickly replaced by excitement as word spread that Liverpool legend, Steve Gerrard, was favored to replace the genial Smith.  While Gerrard has no English Premier League management experience, his record of taking Glasgow Rangers back to the pinnacle of the Scottish Premiership after nine years of arch-rival’s Celtic’s domination was good enough.

By preventing Celtic from being the first of the “Old Firm” (Rangers and Celtic) to reach the magic number of ten consecutive League titles in a row, Gerrard had cemented his place in Scottish folklore.  For Villa fans, his successful three years in Scotland and, with it, the invaluable experience managing in European tournaments, were enough to give him (and the ownership and top management who selected him) the benefit of the doubt. 

With 27 games to go this season and only 4 wins adrift from the top four, Villa are theoretically still in the hunt for Champions League qualification.  More realistically, they still have a shot of capturing a 6th spot (currently held by Man U).  Failing that, finishing better than last year’s 11th spot might be good enough, considering the current downward spiral, and that would set them up for progress next season.

Confirmation that Gerrard was, indeed, onboard and that it looked like Dean Smith would land on his feet at Norwich made for the best news all season!


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