Steven Gerrard wants Aston Villa to be playing in European club competitions again and has quashed any hype surrounding his return to Anfield next month.
In his first press conference as Villa boss ahead of Saturday’s match against Brighton, the former Rangers manager said it was an “honour” to have taken up the role and he feels “extremely proud” to be a head coach in the Premier League.
His first task will be to reverse the club’s poor run of form, with the now-Norwich manager Dean Smith having been sacked after five consecutive defeats, with Villa two points above the relegation places.
After games against Crystal Palace (November 27), Manchester City (December 1) and Leicester City (December 5), the Liverpool legend will travel to Anfield to face Jurgen Klopp’s side on December 11, but Gerrard was quick to silence any excitement surrounding a return to his former club.
Gerrard said: “In terms of Liverpool, again, I don’t think this press conference should be about any other club but Aston Villa, I think we have to show respect to our supporters.
“I think everyone knows all around the world what Liverpool means to me, but my focus is very much on Aston Villa. I’ve said that I am all-in and I can promise our supporters that that’s the case.
“I think first and foremost it’s an extremely proud moment from a personal point of view, it’s a real honour to be the manager of this football club.
“Although the last seven to 10 days have gone extremely quickly, it’s been a real happy time for me because the opportunity to be back in the Premier League and the opportunity to be close to my family were the two main reasons why this was the right move for me.”
Villa, European Cup winners in 1981/82 and Super Cup winners a year after, last reached the knockout stages of a European club competition in 2009 under Martin O’Neill when he guided them to the UEFA Cup Round of 32.
While Gerrard indicated improving Villa’s league position is his first priority, he insists the club can fulfil its potential at a continental level in the future.
He said: “Success in football is always about winning football matches first and foremost. Long-term, I think the club would like to be back on a European level.
“I don’t think it’s the right time now to put any specific date on that, but for me, more importantly it’s about focusing on the short-term which is Brighton at the weekend, we need to start winning football matches again and moving up the table.
More to follow…