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“Character & Personality” To Succeed But Former Player Questions What Is Success For Villa

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Former Liverpool striker Robbie Fowler has joined the band of people passing comment on Aston Villa’s appointment of former Rangers gaffer Steven Gerrard. With the 41-year-old putting pen to paper on a three and a half year deal at B6, Fowler has claimed that his former colleague does have the ‘character and personality’ to ‘deliver’ for us, but he questions what success would actually look like.

With plenty of darker days in recent years, Dean Smith arrived with plenty of patience on the board, but in exceeding expectations and securing promotion back to the Premier League in his first year, he effectively made a rod for his own back, and there were murmurs of discontent with how narrowly we avoided relegation – despite the massive changes made to the team.

With the first half of last season whetting European dreams, an eleventh placed finish was seen by quite a few as a failure – again despite what the second half of the season had in store for us. But optimism remained high this year and Europe was the stated club aim, even after Jack Grealish departed and most fans themselves downgraded their own expectations.

Now we find ourselves here, waiting for Gerrard’s first game this weekend against Brighton and Hove Albion, totally unsure (but hopeful) of what the rest of 2021/22 will bring, and this brings us back to Fowler’s thoughts.

“He has the character, he has the personality, and he also has the right team around him. That is vital. He’s taken a lot of his staff from Rangers, and trusts them. I know most of them, and I know they have quality. That will be key. Being a truly great player doesn’t make you a great manager. It maybe gives you a head start with players, maybe gives you a tiny bit more time. But you have to deliver in the end.”

And that brings us to the ‘what is success’ question.

“Will he be a success at Villa? I don’t doubt it. But then you have to ask the question, what is success at Villa? Dean Smith was successful, and he was sacked. They don’t have the funds to match the top six, they have lost their best player because rightly, he wanted to move on in his career. So what is success? Maybe Europe. Maybe a cup win. It’s a strange one isn’t it. We all expect Steven to go there and do something dramatic, and I can understand that he absolutely had to take the job, after doing so well with Rangers. But can he win the Premier League with Villa? You have to say unlikely. Can he qualify for the Champions League? Again, unlikely. So perhaps success is doing what Brendan Rodgers has done at Leicester the last few seasons. Challenge for Europe, challenge in the cups. Be around the top.”

With a less than perfect summer, newbies still to bed in and fitness issues to address given a Covid hit pre-season, Gerrard still benefits from the valid excuses Smith himself had. But there has to be improvement, as valid excuses aside, there were also very valid criticisms that just weren’t addressed over time.

So would success this year simply be avoiding being sucked into the relegation scrap, steady midtable, top half or would it remain our stated aim – Europe?

Reviewed Expectations As November Nears An End

Hold The Club To The Stated Aim

Hold The Club To The Stated Aim

Top Half

Top Half

Steady Mid-table

Steady Mid-table

Just Survive

Just Survive

Over the summer I was in the Europe camp. We’re in mid-November with plenty to do on an improvement front (and plenty for Gerrard to prove), I’d take steady mid-table now. That would mean good improvement, it would show a good impact from our new gaffer and it would significantly improve expectations for the following year.

Expecting more right now would be daft, expecting less is not something we should entertain.

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