There weren’t any lettuces or votes of no confidence but Steven Gerrard has been sacked as Aston Villa manager.
Although it wasn’t the most high-profile departure of the day, Gerrard left Aston Villa within an hour of his side’s 3-0 defeat to Fulham on Thursday night, which saw fans really turning against the former Rangers boss.
Going into the game Gerrard had been teetering on the edge, favourite to be the next Premier League manager to go and Fulham fans were chanting, “You’re getting sacked in the morning,” as the game went on. But they were wrong, Gerrard did not last until the morning as the trigger was pulled possibly before the squad even left Craven Cottage.
There was very little love or explanation in the statement of Gerrard’s departure, with the Aston Villa website revealing: “Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect.”
A club spokesman added: “We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”
Villa CEO Christian Purslow later said: “The board has come to this decision following a full evaluation of results and performances over the calendar year. We were clear when we appointed Steven that we set an objective of continuous improvement but that has not been achieved despite everybody’s best efforts and we believe the time is right to make these changes now.
“The process of appointing a new head coach is underway and we will update supporters as soon as possible.”
Aaron Danks will take charge of Villa for their home game against Brentford on Sunday, and but all eyes will be turning to the potential permanent appointment.
So who could it be?
Mauricio Pochettino leads the way
Even before Gerrard was sacked, there had been rumours circulating of Mauricio Pochettino being on a potential shortlist of managers to replace him. And now that the position is free, Pochettino is the clear favourite.
The Argentine has been one of the best free agent managers since leaving Paris Saint-Germain in the summer, having led the French side to the Ligue 1 title. But the failures in Europe, and wholesale changes across the board, saw him leave and replaced by Christophe Galtier.
Despite having trophy success in France, Pochettino, of course, raised his managerial profile in England first with Southampton and then Tottenham. In 60 games at Southampton, Pochettino made the club a steady Premier League side and enjoyed wins over Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
Steven Gerrard's Premier League record with Aston Villa:
Goals for: 45
Goals against: 53
Win percentage: 30.8%
What next for Stevie G? ? pic.twitter.com/b6TFnpLwOt
— Squawka (@Squawka) October 20, 2022
But he truly made himself home at Tottenham. When Pochettino took over, the North London club were at risk of failing by the wayside, but the Argentine lifted them up to be title challengers and Champions League runners-up. Pochettino eventually stagnated at Spurs but his ending should not take away from the progress he caused in North London, leaving the club with a 54.6% win rate.
Joining Pochettino high up on the early list is Michael Beale, whose name has already been thrown in the hat for the vacant Wolves job. However, he has turned down that approach, and is unlikely to budge for Aston Villa.
“Integrity and loyalty are big things for me, and if they are the values you live by you have to be strong. I have been all-in here and I have asked other people to be all-in so I can’t be the first person to run away from the ship,” Beale told QPR’s website.
Rounding off the top three is perhaps a surprise name. Thomas Frank has proven himself to be an excellent manager and has been building something big at Brentford, which would make a departure very out of the blue. However, the Dane is reportedly someone Villa admire and they may try their all to get Thomas in to build his own project at Villa Park.