Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard praised the way his players stuck to the game plan to earn a creditable point from a 1-1 draw with Manchester City.
The Villa faithful feared the worst after three consecutive top-flight losses. And it seemed as though it might be four defeats in a row after City hot-shot Erling Haaland gave the visitors a 50th-minute lead. But Leon Bailey ensured the West Midlanders come away with a share of the spoils.
The Jamaica international found the top corner of the net from Jacob Ramsey’s pass on 74 minutes. The result leaves the Villans 17th in the standings while City remain second behind table-topping Arsenal.
Most pundits expected a City triumph and Gerrard admitted his pride at how events unfolded at Villa Park.
“Very proud – the players have come together today,” he told Sky Sports. “They put an incredible amount of effort into the game, followed instructions.
“City are always going to have moments and we had to ride our luck, this is what we wanted out of the game and this is the game plan we gave them.”
And the former Rangers chief lifted the lid on the tactics Aston Villa employed to stifle the opposition.
“Sometimes you’ve got to put more legs in the team, sacrifice certain technical levels,” he added. “You have to take some space away and people in the team who can gain the ball and move forward with speed.
“We went with Leon and Ramsey because we felt we would have areas to break into.
“We did it better in the second half but we wanted to be more organised because of Haaland and others capable of finding space.”
Defiant Gerrard still wants more
Gerrard came into the game under severe pressure, admitting himself that he feared for his job. His players responded well to earn a valuable and unexpected point.
And the former England skipper made it clear that he will never shy away from the challenges of management.
“I’ll always take the hits, that’s my job, we have lost too many points this season and we need to do things slightly different,” he continued. “I’m proud of the players but there will be no pats on the back today because it is a draw. It’s a big draw but it’s still just a draw.
“I need to lead this team – I knew this job was huge and I know our run of form hasn’t been good enough.
“We’ve been close to that performance but the moments have gone against us, they have been kinder to us today but that’s got to be the start of us today. We have to use this and grow our results.”
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