Steven Gerrard admits Aston Villa’s ambitious plans were a factor in him leaving Rangers to become the club’s new head coach.
The former Liverpool midfielder left his role at Ibrox, where he won the Scottish Premiership title last season having gone undefeated, to replace Dean Smith after he was sacked last weekend following a run of five successive defeats.
That run has left the club 16th in the Premier League, two points above the relegation zone after just three wins this season, but Gerrard is confident the only way is up having spoken to owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.
“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new head coach,” said the 41-year-old, whom the PA news agency understands has signed a three-and-a-half-year contract.
“In my conversations with Nassef, Wes and the rest of the board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.
“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club.
“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart.
“I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”
The job Gerrard did at Rangers, and the one before that with a season coaching the under-18s at boyhood club Liverpool, was what convinced Villa he was the man to take them forward.
Not only did Gerrard help end Celtic’s domination, denying them a 10th successive title with Rangers’ first Premiership win in a decade, but he has had some success in the Europa League, having twice reached the last 16.
“Since moving into coaching after his illustrious playing career, Steven began by managing and developing top young players in the Liverpool FC academy which is experience we value highly at Aston Villa,” said Villa chief executive Christian Purslow.
“It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven’s coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa.
“We are excited he has agreed to lead us in the next phase of our ambitious plans as we look to build on the progress made since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took over the club in 2018.”
Rangers expressed their gratitude to Gerrard and his backroom staff – primarily Gary McAllister, a former Villa assistant manager under Gerard Houllier, and fellow former Liverpool coaches Michael Beale, Tom Culshaw and Jordan Milsom – and wished them future success.
“I would firstly like to put on record my thanks to Steven for his outstanding efforts over the last three-and-a-half years at Rangers,” said chairman Douglas Park.
“He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments, not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign.
“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent and leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”