Will Coutinho Thrive at Aston Villa Under Gerrard?

Published by Chris Jenkins
31st Jan 2022

Aston Villa was struggling prior to Steven Gerrard arriving as the club manager. They’re currently looking like a much more fearsome team and this is largely down to Gerrard’s influence. 

Whether you’re a huge football fan or not, you will have heard of Steven Gerrard. His time as a player for Liverpool saw him become one of the best midfielders in the world and many believe him to be a born leader. 

After his playing career ended, people wondered what sort of path Gerrard would follow. His commanding presence made him seem almost destined to go into management, and this is exactly what he did. Since then, his managerial path has been pretty impressive and promising, and this looks set to continue with Aston Villa. 

Villa has transformed into an exciting prospect almost overnight, and this was made obvious by the move of Phillipe Coutinho in the January transfer window. A hugely talented player, Coutinho has underperformed in recent years. Could this be about to change? Let’s take a look at what might happen with Coutinho and Gerrard.

The History Of Coutinho And Gerrard

Phillipe Coutinho was struggling to get a game for Inter Milan when Liverpool FC signed him for a fee of £8.5 million. He was a late addition to the January transfer window, joining the club on 30th January 2013. 

Over the next few years, Coutinho developed into one of the best players in the Premier League. It got to the point where many pundits believed the club wouldn’t challenge for the league without him. He was the definition of a key player, and he thrived under his captain Steven Gerrard.

Gerrard was a leader out on the pitch and helped with the development of players like Coutinho. Upon Gerrard’s departure, Coutinho continued to light up the league before moving to Barcelona in 2018. 

At this point, his career didn’t quite go to plan. He has undoubtedly been involved in some amazing moments, but the star player we once saw was no longer shining as bright. 

Gerrard retired from his playing career in 2016. His first job in a managerial role was for the Liverpool Academy. This appointment came in January 2017. 

He did a good job within this role and ended up taking charge of the Liverpool U18s for the 2017/18 season. Reports suggest that the young manager impressed Jurgen Klopp with his strong work ethic and football knowledge. 

Whilst all this was happening, he was achieving his coaching badges.  In April 2018, Gerrard was offered the role of manager at Rangers. This would be his first job in a top flight league as he took over the role at the Scottish Premiership club. 

Rangers were, at the time, in the shadow of their closest rivals Celtic in terms of recent League title wins. 

His time as manager saw the team have a massive change in fortunes, going on a 12 game unbeaten run from the start of the season. Gerrard led Rangers to their first win over Celtic since 2012 with a 1-0 win. Due to this, the Rangers fans began to love him. 

His success meant that he was often linked with other jobs, and in the 2019/20 season he was heavily linked with a move to Newcastle United to replace his own former manager Rafael Benitez. 

It seems that Gerrard felt comfortable at Rangers and did not want to make the jump just yet, as he turned down the role. This was most likely the right decision, as Gerrard took Rangers to record-breaking success in his next season.

With back-to-back Old Firm wins and a great European campaign, Rangers were performing like a brand new team. By March, Gerrard won Rangers their first league title in over 10 years and their 55th overall. There were huge celebrations in the streets and the fans were overjoyed with the achievements of the Liverpool-born coach. 

Aston Villa

Despite the sale of Jack Grealish allowing Villa to make several great signings in the summer transfer window, the team failed to perform well in the Premier League. After a run of poor results, they sacked manager Dean Smith. 

Rumours began to circulate that Gerrard would be his replacement, and the deal was done fairly quickly. Gerrard became the new Aston Villa manager on 11th November, and the club had to pay Rangers a compensation fee of around £4 million. 

Within weeks it became clear that Gerrard is a straightforward, no-nonsense kind of manager. The way he conducts himself in post-match interviews makes it clear that he has a vision. 

His style of play has drastically changed Villa’s fortunes on the pitch and they began to climb the table fairly quickly. Players such as Leon Bailey and Buendia began to thrive, but Gerrard hadn’t had a transfer window of his own until now. 

With the signings of big-name players like Lucas Digne and Phillipe Countinho, it is clear that the Villa board are backing their new manager. 

Would Coutinho have gone to Aston Villa without Steven Gerrard’s involvement? This seems unlikely. Whilst Villa are a huge historic club with a successful past, the draw for players such as Coutinho is directly linked to Gerrard.

Coutinho likely understands that Gerrard knows him in and out and will allow him to perform to the best of his abilities. In his first game for the club, he scored and got an assist.

This trend looks set to continue as the Brazilian star is showing us shades of the Premier League player we once knew. Whether or not he can perform to the level he once did at Liverpool is unclear, but he will certainly thrive under Steven Gerrard.

Aston Villa is hoping to get into the Europa League this season, and both Gerrard and Coutinho are no strangers to European football success. Together, they can make something happen.