New Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard has revealed that he accepted the job because the opportunity was ‘too big’ to turn down, while he believes the club is a good fit or him.
Gerrard had a contract with former club Rangers until 2024 and was fast becoming a legend in Glasgow by winning the Scottish Premiership title last season – a first since before the club’s financial implosion and forced relegation in 2012.
Rangers were again leading Celtic in the Premiership table when the call from Villa came, offering Gerrard his first taste of Premier League management south of the border.
A purist might have wanted the former Liverpool player to see it through at Rangers, win more trophies and perhaps at some point restore the club to the Champions League group stage. He freely admits that leaving is a ‘risk’, but this was a job he knew he had to take.
“Aston Villa sells itself – an iconic football club. I know [it] pretty well from the outside, and I’m very much excited to get involved inside and start building relationships,” Gerrard told Villa TV.
“I like a challenge. I like a risk. It’s something I’m really looking forward to getting into. This club will suit me because I know the fans are very passionate and there’s a demand and pressure to win. That’s something I’ve lived with since I was 17.”
Gerrard explained that there was only a day between Villa getting in touch and him being officially unveiled as Dean Smith’s replacement on a three-and-a-half year contract until 2025.
“I was first aware of Aston Villa’s interest on Wednesday, I had a call from my representation, and when the phone call sunk in, I wanted this to happen very quickly, because first and foremost the opportunity was too big,” he explained.
“From there it happened really quick. Credit to Villa, the speed they got things done. Not just me, the staff that I’m bringing as well. I must also pay my respects to Rangers, who were very professional in the deals as well.”