Aston Villa could hire their perfect Dean Smith successor in Rangers manager Steven Gerrard.
The Villa boss has played a huge role in restoring the Midlands club back to the Premier League, earning promotion from the Championship a couple of seasons ago before ensuring survival on the final day of last year’s campaign.
This season has seen Villa take that next step, with a summer spending spree seeing them well in the hunt for a European place for the following season.
Despite that, Football Insider claimed that Smith’s long-term future at the club is far from certain, and that chief executive Christian Purslow has “strong interest” in luring Gerrard to Villa Park.
The 40-year-old has just steered the Gers to a league title in Scotland, and it remains to be seen whether he would be interested in a move south of the border.
Despite it still being so early in his managerial career, Gerrard has already earned himself a place in Rangers folklore, ending Celtic’s quest for a tenth successive league title this season and bringing back a taste of the glory days at Ibrox.
He said: “It has been a challenge and a process. You speak to a lot of people in a lot of areas as a manager to try and improve and get as much experience as you can. But I am who I am. I was an emotional player, I wore my heart on my sleeve, I tried to give everything I could. I feel results and I want to try and be as authentic and real as I can and I wouldn’t want to change away from that because that wouldn’t be me…”
His management style has earned him rave reviews from those who have had the chance to work under him, including former Tottenham and England striker Jermain Defoe.
He said of Gerrard: “I don’t think it surprised me (his success) because he’s a winner. He always talks about Rangers standards, even if you are winning 6-0 or 7-0, the standards can’t drop. It’s not really surprised me he’s done well, to be honest.”
Pinpointed by Juventus icon and manager Andrea Pirlo as one of Europe’s most exciting coaches, Gerrard could lead a new era at Villa Park were Smith to leave anytime soon.
Given his age, the 40-year-old Liverpool legend could build a real long-term project at Villa which sets up the club not just for the here-and-now, but for the long-term future too.