Steven Gerrard was recently appointed as the new head coach of Aston Villa, but his success or failure could be determined by some key men behind the scenes.
The Villains sacked former manager Dean Smith following a poor start to the season and subsequently appointed Gerrard, who made the switch from Scottish giant Rangers after leading them to a first league title since their liquidation in 2012.
While some have taken fire at Gerrard for his perceived betrayal of the Scottish Champions, some have taken an understanding tone with regards to the move. But one key figure behind the scenes may be the key to whether the former Liverpool captain will succeed or fail in the Premier League.
Speaking to Empire of The Kop (EOTK), The Athletic’s Ranger’s writer Jordan Campbell spoke about the importance of Michael Beale, a member of Gerrard’s coaching staff while at Rangers.
He said: “I think for Gerrard it would have probably been pretty difficult to countenance going to any team without Beale but I think that’s the same for the rest of his coaching staff; I think he sees them as one team.
“He was pretty forensic in identifying who he would need to complement himself when he was moving from Liverpool’s academy to Rangers’ in 2018.”
In his earlier coaching career with Chelsea and Liverpool, Beale helped oversee the development of a number of current Premier League and international stars.
At Chelsea he helped cultivate stars such as Mason Mount, Callum-Hudson-Odoi and Tammy Abraham, while his days at Liverpool saw him lend a hand to the development of Trent Alexander-Arnold and Curtis Jones.
Beale himself has made his desire to become a manager no secret, but for now seems happy enough to tag along with the Liverpool legend as part of his journey that can be traced all the way back to his time as an assistant coach at Brazilian side Sao Paulo.
To Gerrard’s credit, he evidently understood that his lack of experience would need to be made up for by coaches such as Beale, as shown when he spoke to the Robbie Fowler Podcast and said: “What I’ll never do is try to do someone else’s job when they are better than me at doing it.
“It would take me 15 to 20 years to become as good as Michael Beale as an on-pitch coach, delivering sessions on a daily basis, so I let Mick be Mick because he’s the expert.”
Gerrard, Beale and the rest of the new coaching staff at Villa will have the rest of this week to get accustomed to their full squad ahead of their clash against an in-form Brighton on Saturday.
If results go poorly for them this weekend, they could find themselves in the relegation zone, which would really pile on the pressure early on in his tenure.