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Steven Gerrard’s relationship with Aston Villa as he becomes favourite for manager’s job

The Liverpool legend had plenty of run-ins with Villa during his illustrious playing career, and now there are plenty of claims that he could replace Dean Smith in the Villa Park hotseat

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Premier League managerial departures so far this season

The mid-2010s might end up going down as the golden age of football social media.

There weren’t quite as many try-hards back then, and thankfully the levels of anger and abuse were nowhere near what we have to put up with now.

It was in this environment that Steven Gerrard slipped against Chelsea in 2014, thereby giving anyone who wasn’t a Liverpool supporter something to point to, laugh at, share around and Photoshop to their heart’s content.

Then a year on, and with Gerrard into his final few months of his illustrious Liverpool career before he’d set off into the Los Angeles sunset, everyone suddenly got fixated with the idea that he could end up lifting a trophy in his final match, the 2015 FA Cup final, which just so happened to fall on his 35th birthday.








Gerrard and Liverpool were beaten in the FA Cup semi-final in 2015
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Image:

Action Images via Reuters)



Liverpool were not having a good season, but they had managed to stumble their way into the FA Cup semi-finals by sneaking past Championship side Blackburn Rovers in a replay. Once there they would face Tim Sherwood’s Aston Villa, who were battling relegation.

A simple passage into the final then?

It had looked like it when Philippe Coutinho, Liverpool’s only shining light that season, scored his third goal of the cup run, but Villa – driven on by teenager Jack Grealish – battled back, and deservedly got the better of Brendan Rodgers’ malfunctioning side thanks to goals from Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph in either half.





The defeat confirmed that Gerrard had lifted his last trophy as a Liverpool player, and Villa supporters gloried in the idea that the Reds’ captain’s birthday was ruined.

Fans of most other clubs had a laugh too.

Then for the final against Arsenal, a picture of some Villa fans on the train to Wembley holding a ‘birthday party’ for Gerrard – complete with cake, party hats, the lot – went viral. Cruel? Yes. Quite funny? Also yes.




But then when Villa got thrashed 4-0 by the Gunners in the final, Liverpool fans got to throw that picture back at them. Slightly more innocent times, see.

What’s the point of all this? Well probably that Villa supporters could be forgiven for having a bit of fun at Gerrard’s expense, because he certainly had plenty of enjoyment at theirs over the years.

Gerrard scored 13 goals against the Midlanders in his Liverpool career, three more than he managed against any other side, and those strikes included one of his five Liverpool hat-tricks in a 5-0 win at Anfield in 2009.








Gerrard scored 13 goals against Villa in his career
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Image:

BPM)



In addition, there was one of his greatest ever Liverpool goals – a thunderous shot from fully 35 yards at the Kop end in the closing weeks of the 2005-06 season.

A few weeks later he’d repeat the trick in the FA Cup final against West Ham.

There was also a late free-kick to win at Villa Park on the opening weekend of the 2007-08 campaign, as well as pressure penalties and well-crafted assists.

There was also a red card in the mix too, with Villa pulling off some impressive wins at Anfield during Gerrard’s time in the team, but usually it was the Reds skipper who enjoyed the better of the contests.




Liverpool saw Villa as a rival for much of Gerrard’s time, and the captain would have viewed games against them as the perfect opportunity to show just why it was the Reds who were usually better.

There was also a grudging respect too, much more than a silly picture on a train could ever damage, and it is likely that the Liverpool icon views Villa as a big club and a big job should he wish to take up the managerial reins following the sacking of Dean Smith.








Gerrard brought the Scottish title back to Rangers last season
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Image:

PA)



We all know the duel factors that could keep him in Scotland – the excellent work he’s been doing at Rangers and the possibility of a certain job on Merseyside eventually arising – but managing Villa must intrigue.

He regularly went toe-to-toe with them during his playing days, and usually got the better of them.

A reunion could be cause for celebration for all parties.



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