Having had quite a bit of time to assess his squad last season, expectations would have been high that Steve Gerrard would bring about some major improvements at Aston Villa this season.
That could still be the case, but their opening fixture at Bournemouth at the weekend certainly raised a few questions. The recently promoted side completely outplayed the visitors, running out as comfortable 2-0 winners.
Villa looked well out of sorts, being disjointed in attack and looking like they lacked any sort of cohesion in their overall play. It was not the ideal start to the season, but it would also be a mistake to overreact to one poor showing.
In saying that, it hasn't stopped some from jumping the gun.
Richard Keys launches Steven Gerrard rant
Banished former Sky Sports presenter Richard Keys has been known to rant some odd rants over the years since his move to Qatar, with Steven Gerrard his latest target.
The 65-year old has slammed the manager's decision to strip Tyrone Mings of the club captaincy and then dropping him for the opening game of the campaign. While there are a few fair questions to ask about such a move, he also made some rather large assumptions about what is currently going on in the dressing room at Villa Park.
Writing in his blog, he presumed to know exactly what was happening within the squad despite having no apparent insider information.
Pre-match at Bournemouth he told us that they’d had a trouble free pre-season and were ready to go. Well they weren’t. And they didn’t have a trouble-free pre-season.
Gerrard walked into trouble all of his own making. He stripped Tyrone Mings of the captaincy - and dropped him at Bournemouth. Big mistake. He’s divided his dressing room right down the middle.
Mings will have his supporters. And they’ll make their feelings known. Some won’t care - but in the other corner will be a group that are delighted to see the ex-captain brought down a peg or two. The unrest will spread to the canteen. Players will sit in their chosen groups - muttering and whispering. It’ll be the same on the coach. Negativity will spread like a virus. Little things become big problems.
Dean Smith dropped Mings once - during his last few months at Villa. I’m told Mings didn’t react well. He was an instant problem with his attitude. Why didn’t Gerrard know this? Perhaps he did?
The reason I ask is that if he did surely the time to tell Mings the bad news was last May? Why didn’t he call him in at the end of last season and have a grown up conversation?
He could’ve told Mings that he wasn’t in his plans. He could’ve invited Mings to find another club - while at the same time suggesting if he wanted to knuckle down and prove his manager wrong he’d be happy to accommodate that. But no - Gerrard left his bad news until 10 days before the season started. Big error.
This move could well turn out to be a questionable one from Steven Gerrard, but Keys makes some very questionable claims here.
Aston Villa will be hoping for a better result when they host Everton at the weekend, or else a certain beIN Sports presenter will be sharpening the knives once again.