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Rangers seek new boss

Gerrard leaves Ibrox to take over at Aston Villa

Steven Gerrard

Exit: Steven Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)

Steven Gerrard has become Aston Villa’s new manager, the Liverpool legend waving goodbye to Rangers for a return to the English Premier League.

Gerrard has signed a three-and-a-half year deal to replace Dean Smith who left the Midlands club last week after a run of five league defeats.

Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, as well as chief executive Christian Purslow, previously managing director at Liverpool, have been impressed by the job Gerrard did at Ibrox, his first in management. 

He steered them to their first league title in a decade – the club’s 55th – ending Celtic’s bid for ten-in-a-row, and completing the Premiership season unbeaten.

Gerrard, 41, was under contract at Ibrox until 2024 and a compensation package said to be £4.5 million was agreed with the Scottish champions.

“I would like to express my sincere gratitude to everybody associated with Glasgow Rangers for giving me the opportunity to manage such an iconic football club,” he said.

“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future.”

Former Ibrox midfielder and Dutch international Giovanni Van Bronckhorst is said to be the favourite to replace Gerrard, the 46-year-old having recently coached Guangzhou R&F in the Chinese Super League.

Other names linked with the Ibrox job include Russell Martin, current No. 2 Gary McAllister, Alex Neil, Frank Lampard, Gennaro Gattuso and Derek McInnes.

However, McAllister together with other backroom staff at Rangers – Tommy Culshaw, first-team coach Michael Beale and head of performance Jordan Milsom – are likely to follow Gerrard to the West Midlands.

Rangers chairman, Douglas Park, commented: “I would firstly like to put on record my thanks to Steven for his outstanding efforts over the last three-and-a-half years at Rangers.

“He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments, not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign.

“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent and leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”

Rangers, four points clear of Celtic at the top of the Scottish Premiership, return to action after the international break with a Scottish League Cup semi-final against Hibs at Hampden Park on Sunday, 21 November.

Gerrard’s move was questioned by those who thought he may not survive the impatience at an English premier league club if he fails to deliver trophies which have been in short supply at Villa Park.

However, he is thought to consider it a stepping stone to a return to Liverpool when Jurgen Klopp moves on. His Villa team will face the 2020 champions at Anfield on 11 December.

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