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Boss No. 1 target

Villa to make move to prise Gerrard from Ibrox

Steven Gerrard

Winner: Gerrard (pic: SNS Group)

Rangers are bracing themselves for an official approach from Aston Villa for title-winning manager Steven Gerrard.

The English Premier League side have identified the former Liverpool skipper as their top target to replace Dean Smith who was sacked on Sunday and are preparing to contact the Scottish champions this week.

Gerrard has been at Rangers for the three full seasons and the manner in which he has steered the club back to the pinnacle of the game in Scotland has not gone unnoticed by Villa owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens.

Villa Park chief executive Christian Purslow was managing director at Liverpool when Gerrard was captain and the pair know each other well.

Ibrox assistant Gary McAllister is also well known to the Villa fans having been No. 2 to Gerard Houllier during the late Frenchman’s time in charge.

The Rangers manager is said to top a shortlist of no more than six candidates which also includes Belgium manager Roberto Martinez. He was also linked with the vacant Newcastle United manager’s post, subsequently filled by Eddie Howe.

Villa’s interest, however, seems far more genuine which will be a worry for Rangers supporters.

Gerrard was appointed Rangers manager in May 2018 – his first managerial job – and is under contract until 2024. A compensation package would have to be agreed between the two clubs – if permission is given to Villa to speak to Gerrard.

A move to the Premier League would presumably be hugely appealing for the 41-year-old, both on a professional and personal level.

He has carved himself a niche in Rangers history when winning the club’s 55th league title last season, in the process halting Celtic’s bid for an historic 10-in-a-row.

Frustrations seemed to build, though, when he was unable to strengthen his first-team squad ahead of the Champions League qualifiers, and a significant transfer budget in Birmingham would be a big plus.

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His family still live in the Liverpool area so a move south would also be hugely appealing from the perspective of being able to see more of them.

Villa are sitting in 15th place in the Premier League, with Smith losing his job after five straight defeats. Their next game is at home to Brighton on Saturday, November 20 by which time the club want to have the new man in place.

Rangers, currently four points head of Celtic in the Premiership, return to action after the international break on Sunday 21 November when they take on Hibs in the semi-final of the Scottish League Cup at Hampden Park.

In their financial accounts to the year end 30 June 2021 which were published on Monday, Rangers posted increased losses of £23.5m.



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