Exclusive Steven Gerrard interview: Aston Villa boss in Erling Haaland, lost Diego Carlos and how to turn the tide | Football news

“He’s very different. A physical specimen,” Steven Gerrard told Sky Sports. He’s talking about Erling Haaland. “We’ve known from afar that he has world-class prowess and he’s certainly backing that right now.” Then comes the smile.

“So hopefully Pep gives him a break tomorrow (Saturday).”

There’s not much for the Aston Villa manager to smile about this season and few expect that to change when his side face Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City at Villa Park on Saturday.

Saturday, September 3 5:00 pm

Starts 5:30pm

“Everybody expects them to win this game and win comfortably,” he added. “The challenge for us is to go and prove the world [wrong]. “

When Gerrard arrived at Villa in November, there was a cautious optimism. In his first managerial job, he won the Rangers’ first championship in a decade. Villa used to be in the bottom five of the table but still has money to spend and hopes that he can revive the club.

Prudence gave way to conviction as he won four of his first six games, losing the other two with odd goals against Liverpool and Man City.

Nine months have passed and the mood has changed.

Four defeats in the opening five games tested patience. Last weekend there were boos at being beaten by West Ham. Gerrard admits that he is worried. But what does he think the problem at Aston Villa is and what does he have to change?

“We need to stop conceding goals,” he said.

“From a defensive point of view, the effort and application are definitely there. We have a lot of people dying from causes. Our goalkeeper makes a save, our defender makes a save, we are winning a game. certain number of situations and duels.

“But against those high-level teams it’s about details.”

He has a receipt.

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Watch for FREE: Highlights from Arsenal vs Aston Villa in the Premier League

There are a few examples in the 1-2 loss to Arsenal on Wednesday night. “The two goals we’ve conceded – and a lot of them – have been down to individuals.” He didn’t name it in this case, but he probably shouldn’t have to.

“Show someone the wrong way rather than on their weaker side.” It can be easily concluded that this is a reference to the excellent team captain Tyrone Mings allowing Bukayo Saka to cross with his left foot smoothly and pass the ball to Gabriel Martinelli.

“Do you go up to people and close the door or do you just go up to people and hit with your eyes? Those are the last little details of defense that you have to get right at the top because if you don’t you don’t. ” t, the best players in the world will hurt you.

“That’s why we’re where we are.”

There is an exasperation there as Gerrard believes he has addressed the team’s defensive weaknesses when he signed famous Sevilla centre-back Diego Carlos for £26m in the summer. The Brazilian injured his Achilles during the win over Everton.

Gerrard said: “He was brought in for a reason.

“It was meant to strengthen and help us, to make our defense a lot stronger. Knowing that the personnel were pretty similar, we knew we could have the same problems six months on. front. To lose him in the back is very important.”

Villa returned to the transfer market on the last day to bring in Jan Bednarek from Southampton and Leander Dendoncker from Wolves. “To get two new faces will help us, bring some energy, some quality and some competition for positions.”

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Gerrard says Douglas Luiz will respect club’s decision to turn down Arsenal offers

They are reasonable signings, all with Premier League experience. But in a way, that’s why time is not on Gerrard’s side. Carlos is 29 years old. Philippe Coutinho 30. Lucas Digne has replaced the younger Matty Targett at some expense.

These are not contracts for the distant future but acquisitions to help improve this team now and now. As a result, advocates are less willing to hear the talk about this individual error. They want to know how Gerrard has a plan to prevent that from happening.

The answer will not come from the market now. “I’m glad it’s closed. You know exactly what you’re working on until at least January. It gives you more clarity.” That means Gerrard has to come out and coach these errors out of his team.

“You need to keep working and keep giving them the right messages, continue to be tolerant of these players, continue to put them in situations they will face on a game day. it’s up to myself and my coaches to keep working and keep giving that information.

“But there’s also the push of individuals to do their job for the team. We need players who have been here for a while to move on. It’s all-encompassing. The players have to go and perform. Take that out and deliver it to us.”

On the other end of the pitch, more fluidity is needed.

His tactics have been criticized, with many suggesting the team was too tight in midfield. What may have previously been heralded as flexibility when it comes to results is now understood as moving between systems in search of solutions that never came.

“There are always people pointing fingers in this situation but that won’t stop me from supporting myself and believing what I believe in. I won’t make drastic changes to what I believe in. This team has shown themselves to be capable. We are confident we can overcome it and make it a success.”

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Gerrard has admitted feeling ‘concerned’ about his position

There was determination there, the kind of defiant form that defined his playing career and helped him change the dynamics of power in Scotland. When asked what he could tell supporters to look for some signs of progress beyond bald stats, he offered no explanation.

“I don’t think supporters want cheap words right now. I think fans want action and results. Words don’t get you that, it’s performance. Those are the bets. People move forward. We all take responsibility. We are the ones who can put it right.

“We need results. Can’t hide from it. I definitely recognize where I am and the challenge ahead. Won’t hide from that, chances are you roll up your sleeves. That’s what I’m up to. told the players.

“I don’t think anyone in the game enjoys getting results like this. They’ll be lying if they tell you it’s cool because it’s not. Everyone wants to win. Everyone wants to. feel comfortable and feel proud.

“But there’s only one way back to that is to stick together and fight for every point. Let’s really show siege mentality and solidarity together so we can get through the tough times. For me, that just makes me more determined.

“I know what I signed up for. I know there will be periods where we have to suffer and go through tough times. We’re going through one of those situations. But I believe there will be times. soon we’ll feel the same way. so much better about ourselves.”

Erling Haaland is waiting.

Steven Gerrard in the challenge of Man City

Does Erling Haaland make it a slightly different challenge?

“I think so. You need to be diligent with this individual, which is easier said than done because that’s the level of the player you’re dealing with. He’s a top player but if you focus too much So much into one player in this situation, you can forget the other world-class talent they have. That’s what you’re dealing with here.”

Planning to press the pitch higher or defend deep?

“We certainly won’t park the bus on the edge of our area but sometimes City force you to come back to these situations and you have to make sure you carry the threat in counter-attack situations. I think it’s annoying if you try to press City too high because they have that speed, that last pass. So you have to strike that balance to make sure that in certain situations you can counter-attack. ”

Can Villa encourage from previous meetings?

“In both of the previous Man City tests we had a chance to get points. One is that we never got a last minute chance at Holte End with young Carney [Chukwuemeka]. And obviously to take the lead after 75 minutes, we were exhausted. But we certainly rocked City and got them concerned for the long haul of that game, so we’re more likely to hurt this team at the right times. ”

What will the result against Man City be?

“When you play against a team at this level, it’s more important not to have silly flips. They are a high pressing team and have a lot of agency around you, so it was important for us to be able to play away from pressure but also hurt them.

“We need people who can run and get us on the pitch. To get the rest from the non-possessions you have to have the players responsible, supporting themselves because otherwise you will never be able to throw your own punches.

“To get something against Man City, you have to find the perfect performance. On its current form it seems very unlikely, I get that. But this is football, this is the chance we got for 90 minutes. We need a result. It doesn’t matter who the next challenge is. We need that result to get us in better shape. ”

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WATCH FREE: Highlights from Manchester City vs Aston Villa in May

Watch Aston Villa vs Manchester City live on Sky Sports Premier League from 5pm on Saturday; start at 5:30pm

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