Steven Gerrard takes his new club Aston Villa to Anfield on Saturday in the Premier League as he aims to continue his storming start at the Midlands club
Steven Gerrard has been all business at Aston Villa as his beloved Liverpool could find out to their cost this weekend.
Gerrard pledged to go “all in” at Villa when he joined amid claims he was only hot-desking at Villa Park until 2024 when Jurgen Klopp’s contract is up at Anfield.
But Gerrard has quickly got his feet under the table in the manager’s office at Villa Park where he has injected a steely determination into his squad.
The former Liverpool and England skipper has even run the rule over his players’ diets with ketchup now off the menu at the club’s training ground.
And whereas predecessor Dean Smith’s managerial style was to be close to the players and operate as a friend, Gerrard is a more demanding task master.
No one can deny his approach is paying off after a 2-1 victory over Leicester on Sunday made it nine points from four games since Gerrard quit Rangers.
Villa have been transformed into a mean and clinical side as Opta stats show they are facing fewer shots and are being more deadly with their own attempts under Gerrard compared to Smith.
Their only recent reverse was a narrow 2-1 loss to champions Manchester City and Villa will aim to give Liverpool a scare on Saturday after Gerrard insisted he won’t be distracted by returning to his old stomping ground.
Gerrard,41, said: “That’s for me to deal with in terms of emotions and all that.
“I see it as being very much about the team and preparing them in the best possible way.
“We’ll be trying to get a result at Anfield.
“For me, it’ll be about the team having the confidence and belief that we can go and take something from the game.
“There are no sentimental thoughts ahead of it.
Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)
“I just want to go there and win.
“We want to make it as difficult as we can.”
Smith was axed after five successive defeats as Villa struggled without talisman and skipper Jack Grealish following his £100million sale to Manchester City.
But under Gerrard new summer signings like record £33m buy Emiliano Buendia are finally coming good.
While old hands like Marvelous Nakamba,27, are playing better than ever and starlets like Jacob Ramsey, 20, and Carney Chukwuemeka,18, are really flourishing.
The average number of shots faced a game by Villa under Gerrard is now down to 10.8 from 14.6 while passing accuracy has improved and they are averaging 1.8 goals a game, up from 1.3.
Midfielder Ramsey,20, who has started all of Villa’s wins under Gerrard, said: “Since he’s come in, he’s given us a boost.
“Before, we lost five games on the bounce.
“Training’s been intense and the standards have gone up – all of a sudden we’ve won three games out of four.
“It’s looking good at the moment.”