If it’s possible to be constructively testy, that’s how we’d describe Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard’s post-match interview following a 1-0 loss to Arsenal at Villa Park on Saturday.
And it follows that it’s difficult to watch the below video without feeling that Villa’s in the right hands, as Gerrard described his feeling after the loss — “I’m emotional. I care. I don’t like getting beat.” — before a positive goodbye to his interviewer.
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Gerrard saw the same game as the rest of us. Villa was bossed in the first half and better in the second half, fortunate to get to halftime down 1-0 instead of 3-0 and perhaps unfortunate to not snag an equalizer or better.
“It was a tough first half because we allowed it to be tough,” Gerrard said following the loss. “I thought we were indecisive in a lot of the things we tried to do. I thought our performance lacked belief and it wasn’t until halftime onwards that we showed that we can improve.”
He later added, “It’s difficult to execute a game plan if not everyone believes in it.”
Villa’s European hopes all but cooked
Villa’s outside shot at Europe is quickly eroding, though admittedly Gerrard’s men would’ve been ahead of schedule should they’ve arrived in even the Europa Conference League following a tricky start to the Premier League season under Dean Smith.
And so Gerrard keeps mentioning the big picture and the summer transfer window when it comes to prodding VIlla into the top seven picture.
“The league doesn’t lie,” Gerrard said. “The teams ahead of us, at the moment, are ahead of us for a reason. There’s a gap. If we want to take one of their places, we’ve gotta be positive. We’ve gotta believe in it. We can’t be indecisive. We’ve gotta grab it off them, keep learning, and get support from up above.”
Villa will still have a chance to climb the table against the odds but it will take a series of triumphs against very difficult competition.
Next up is Wolves, then Tottenham. Liverpool and Leicester follow. Should Gerrard’s men take an unlikely 9-12 points from that, the run-in could see the top seven as an option for them, but really it’s going to take a full year under Gerrard… or more.
"I thought certain individuals lacked belief."
"I'm emotional in interviews, I care, I don't like getting beat."
Steven Gerrard gives and honest assessment of Villa's struggles against Arsenal, and clears the air with @TheDesKelly… pic.twitter.com/E1mzOFpHND
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 19, 2022