Jamie Carragher believes Aston Villa have “stardust” on the touchline in the form of Steven Gerrard and he hopes his former Liverpool team-mate can turn their fortunes around.
Villa have lost four of their opening five Premier League matches this season with Arsenal, West Ham, Crystal Palace and Bournemouth beating them.
Their latest 2-1 defeat at Arsenal means they are now second bottom of the table and face a tough test against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City side at the weekend.
In his column for the Daily Telegraph, Carragher admits it was a “gamble” from Aston Villa in appointing Gerrard in the first place but hopes they will hold their nerve and back him.
“After Manchester City’s visit to Villa this weekend, the next four games look pivotal in giving a more accurate impression as to where the team is heading. Villa play Leicester City, Southampton, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest.
“Given he got the job on the back of Dean Smith losing five consecutive games, Gerrard understands what the consequences will be if he cannot turn this run around.
“He has lost four of the last five with every chance of that becoming five from six given City’s form. That will ramp up the pressure heading into a critical spell. When a negative momentum begins it becomes difficult to reverse it.”
Gerrard’s one victory this season came at home to Frank Lampard’s Everton and Carragher has questioned why the two former England internationals are treated differently by their respective fanbases.
Carragher added: “Having fans jeer him – as happened after Villa’s loss to West Ham last weekend – is a new experience for someone so revered in his playing career.
“There is an interesting contrast between Gerrard’s current stock with Villa fans and Frank Lampard with Everton’s. While Gerrard is trying to retain his fanbase’s support, Lampard’s name is chanted at every Everton game.
“What is the difference? Both have the same number of points this season, and over the course of their short spells in charge even Lampard will admit his side is still a long way from where he wants them to be.
“But while Evertonians were relieved Lampard was appointed ahead of Vitor Pereira – and understood the difficulties he faced reconstructing the team – from day one there has always been a sense that there was a solid foundation upon which to build at Villa.
“Smith finished 11th in 2020-21, and for a long stretch of that season European qualification looked possible. There was no clamour for him to be sacked from the hardcore Villa fans who saw Smith as one of their own. It felt like the club wanted a change more than their supporters.
“Villa lost stardust on the pitch when Jack Grealish joined Manchester City. With Gerrard, they have it on the touchline. With respect to Smith, Gerrard’s appointment elevated Villa’s profile to a global stage.
“While Lampard has had an opportunity to manage Chelsea so is not viewed with suspicion by Evertonians as mapping out stages of his career, Gerrard has been fighting the perception that Villa is a stepping stone towards the ultimate goal of becoming Liverpool manager.”
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