Despite falling to his first defeat as Aston Villa manager, Steven Gerrard would no doubt have been left impressed by a number of his players following Wednesday night.
The Villans were beaten 2-1 by Premier League champions Manchester City at Villa Park, and brought an end to the quick turnaround in results Gerrard had produced in his first couple of weeks in the dugout.
One man who epitomised that newfound belief at the club, was Marvelous Nakamba.
The Zimbabwe international was at his energetic and dynamic best on Wednesday, covering every blade of glass looking to stop City from playing through the lines and dominating proceedings.
As per Sofascore, the midfielder won seven duels on the night – only Ollie Watkins and John McGinn won more – while nobody made more than his quite impressive six tackles (Matty Cash could only match it).
Nakamba was quick to snap at the feet of City’s attacking players, and was only taken off by Gerrard late on in the second half for the Villa boss to inject some fresh energy.
And, writing in his post-match player ratings for The Birmingham Mail, Ashley Preece gave him a seven, saying: “Tackled well as Villa’s middle man in midfield once again. Nakamba was workmanlike in his approach once more here before he ran himself into the ground as Sanson injected some energy for the final 13 or so minutes. Another good effort from Nakamba.”
On Twitter, journalist James Hendicott dubbed the Zimbabwean as an “absolute revelation” under Gerrard, and that he “looks a superb player all of a sudden.”
As is often the case with new managers coming in, there will be players who fall by the wayside and others who come more into the reckoning, and under Gerrard, Nakamba looks like a player reborn.
He’s started the past three games for the new Villa boss, while yesterday was the first time Gerrard had actually taken him off.
While much of the focus will be on how the former Liverpool captain can get the best out of Villa’s numerous attacking players, his ability to coach Nakamba into a midfield machine could be key too.
Meanwhile, this Villa man had a “rough night” vs City…