the kop man How Stevie Gerrard is laying down his foundation for Liverpool job when the time is right
THERE are so many reasons why I’m convinced Steven Gerrard will succeed as a manager – and maybe he is destined to become Liverpool manager when the time is right.
It’s inevitable that people will see Stevie as a possible successor to Jurgen Klopp when his era at Anfield comes to an end. His current contract expires in the summer of 2024.
While we are still some way off from thinking about who follows Klopp, there’s no doubt that what Gerrard has done at the start of his management career has been hugely impressive.
Not many people in Ireland were too impressed when Stevie accepted the offer to take over as Rangers manager, and I include myself in that list.
Having been a Celtic buff all my life, since the days of their Lisbon Lions European Cup win in 1967, the idea of my mate taking over at Rangers didn’t sit too well with me, and partly because I knew he’d make a success of it.
I remember talking to my friends down in Portugal about him, and what he would do at Rangers. I warned them he would make a massive impact.
They are all Celtic fans and were not having any of it because Rangers were well behind at the time, but look at the job he did in a short period of time.
He got the club back on track, closed the gap on Celtic and lifted the Scottish title last season.
Now he’s laying down a marker at Aston Villa and has made a big impression in his first few weeks at the club – both in the way he has handled the playing side of things and also in his dealings with the media.
Steve’s success in management doesn’t surprise me at all because he has always been a very astute, clever man and a deep thinker on the game.
Top players in the modern game have enough money to walk away and never think about it again, but Stevie is built for football and always has been.
I remember playing against him when he was 15-years-old in the Liverpool reserve team and I was at Tranmere.
Even at that age, he was unbelievable playing in front of the back four and I recall asking the Liverpool lads after the game who this kid was.
What he went on to achieve at the club secured him a place alongside the all-time Liverpool greats, yet being one of the best in the world doesn’t count for too much when you move into management.
He needed to prove himself at Rangers and he did that in the grand manner by knocking Celtic off their perch.
Now he has taken his chance in a Premier League club – and the early signs have been very good for him at Villa.
He is still at the start of his journey there, but if Stevie stays at the club for two or three years, I have no doubt that they will get closer to the European places.
Lucas Digne was a great signing from Everton earlier this month and he did well to use his connections with Philippe Coutinho to get that deal over the line.
After Villa sold Jack Grealish last summer, Coutinho will now look to fill the void left behind and it was a very interesting signing.
The Brazil international could be fantastic for Villa – and it’s safe to assume he would not have gone to the club unless Stevie was the manager.
The career he had as a player will be standing him in good stead now, as he will have taken the good and bad qualities from the managers he has worked under down the years and put that into his coaching philosophy.
Stevie played under managers like Gerrard Houllier, Rafa Benitez and Fabio Capello, with everyone you work with having different qualities.
For example, he would look at Benitez’s man-management of players and appreciate that it was no good, so he will learn from that.
Then he might take some of the good qualities Rafa brings to a team and try and use that, with the range of top managers he has played for giving him plenty to tap into.
Gerrard has always had a great football brain, a brilliant work ethic and I’m sure somewhere down the line, he would like to have the chance to take over as Liverpool manager.
Right now, that debate is not on the agenda and as was the case at Rangers, he will be doing everything he can to move Aston Villa forward for as long as he is at the club.
So when Liverpool play at Villa Park in April, he will be desperate to beat them, that’s his job.
Then if Klopp leaves Liverpool as he says he will in a little over two years’ time, maybe Stevie will be in a position to have a go at the job.
Following a great manager like Klopp is no easy task and we saw what happened when Kenny Dalglish left Liverpool in the early 1990s and then Alex Ferguson left United in 2013.
The end of a successful managerial era can give a club huge problems and whoever succeeds Klopp will be taking on a massive job.
Gerrard has shown that he has the ability to get the best out of players and make the right decisions in the transfer market, but he is still auditioning for the job at the end of his rainbow.
Not many managers achieve sustained success. But if Stevie is still making progress at Aston Villa by the time Klopp potentially leaves Liverpool in 2024, the dream job of taking charge at Anfield might well come Gerrard’s way.
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