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Aston Villa’s hiring of Steven Gerrard as Dean Smith’s successor was the most notable story to come from the most recent international break, as they managed to lure the former Liverpool and England captain away from Rangers.
Having stopped Celtic’s pursuit of 10 Scottish Premiership titles in a row, Gerrard’s main objective from his initial appointment at Ibrox was complete and the timing felt appropriate for him to test himself at the next level.
As Rangers look set to move on with Giovanni van Bronckhorst, Gerrard will now shape himself up for tests against some of the top managers in world football including Jurgen Klopp, Pep Guardiola, Thomas Tuchel and Antonio Conte.
The 41-year-old is ambitious to say the least, already outlining his ambitions to get the club back into Europe. He said: “Success in football is always about winning football matches first and foremost. Long-term I think the club would like to be back on a European level.
“I don’t think it’s the right time now to put any specific date on that but for me more importantly it’s about focusing on the short-term which is Brighton at the weekend, we need to start winning football matches again and moving up the table.
“We’ve got a challenging game at the weekend so I don’t really want to look too far ahead of that, but with the players we have got in the squad, we should be higher than where we are. So it’s one step at a time and we need that win as soon as possible.”
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In the wake of Gerrard’s appointment a number of sportsbooks have made special markets associated with his time as Aston Villa manager. These are all futures bets, the best of which we have featured below. These have all come from SkyBet.
A Successful Start?
Coming into a team that has lost five straight matches in the Premier League and just two points above the relegation zone, Gerrard appears to have a big job on his hands. There is no doubt the squad has too much talent to be in their current predicament, but gelling it all together, including their four new signings, proved to be an insurmountable task for Smith.
They have immediately been priced at 9/2 to finish in the top half of the Premier League come the end of the season, while a more ambitious top four finish by the end of next season is 16/1.
Gerrard’s first three games as a Premier League manager will see him take on Brighton (H), Crystal Palace (A) and Manchester City (H) in a difficult early run that they are 66/1 to take maximum points from.
The more optimistic Villa supporters out there may like the look of the 125/1 shot for their team to win the FA Cup and finish in the top half come the end of the season. Gerrard is also 9/2 to win a Premier League Manager of the Month award during the 2021/22 season.
As he admitted himself, the links to Liverpool will be impossible to avoid throughout his tenure as a manager and SkyBet have capitalised on that with a number of special Liverpool markets.
Aston Villa face Liverpool at Anfield on December 11 and they are 10/1 to pick up three points in that fixture, while they are 80/1 to beat Klopp’s title challengers home and away in the Premier League this season. The opposite is a much shorter price at 8/11 if you fancy Liverpool to get the better of their iconic former player.
You can get 6/1 on Gerrard’s first signing being a Liverpool player, while Glen Kamara is 6/1 to follow his former boss in swapping Glasgow for Birmingham in the January transfer market. Kamara was one of Rangers’ standout performers during Gerrard’s time at Ibrox and was rewarded for his performances with a new four-year contract in September.
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If this turns out to be a stepping stone job – something that he has vehemently denied in his initial interviews – then there are markets that cover that possibility too.
Gerrard is currently a 6/1 shot to directly replace England manager Gareth Southgate and is 8/1 to leave Aston Villa before the end of the 2021/22 season. In the event of an enormous disaster, he is 50/1 to leave before Christmas Day and a 33/1 outsider to be the next Premier League manager to leave his post.
He comes to Villa Park with an enormous presence, but will be under no illusions over the pressure to get results. His time at Rangers should stand him in good stead from that perspective, but there is no doubt that this is a huge step up in quality when it comes to the level that he is now operating at.
This is a calculated risk but one that is certainly worth taking as he looks to become one step closer to his dream job at Anfield.