Stevie G - why go looking for trouble?

Published: Monday, 08 August 2022

Rule 1 in management. Don’t go looking for trouble - it will find you. I’m afraid Stevie G appears to have blundered into trouble all of his own making at Villa.

Few of the weekends’ results surprised me. The exceptions were Liverpool’s anaemic performance at Fulham and Villa’s defeat at Bournemouth.

Then the Gerrard/Neville meme started doing the rounds. It doesn’t make good reading for either of them.

Coaching has done with Neville so it doesn’t really matter from his perspective - but it’s damaging for Steven.

So what’s wrong at Villa? Last season was a free hit. Gerrard had plenty of time to work out what he wanted and Villa spent big on his plans in the summer. That’s why I expected to see them hit the ground running.

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 x-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.

Come on Steven - you’ve been a player too recently to make that mistake. I guess you wanted to be seen as a tough-guy? But you know how that re-bounds. It did on Benitez when he wanted Alonso out at a Liverpool. It did when Benitez hooked you in a Merseyside derby saying he ‘couldn’t trust you’ because you got too carried away in those games.

This is a massive season for Mings. There’s a WC around the corner and he’ll want to be part of it. He won’t want to spend the first two months on the bench and he’ll stink the place out if that happens.

It’s Everton next at home. If Villa lose that one their fans will rear up and take sides. They’ll be on Mings side as well. Trouble Steven - and it didn’t have to be like this. Btw - that system looks too rigid to me and doesn’t suit the players you’ve got. Just my view - that’s all.

Liverpool we’re strangely quiet at Fulham, but that might have had a lot to do with Fulham. We sometimes forget that. That’s why I wanted to concentrate on what Brighton had achieved at OT on BeINSPORTS before we spoke about United.

Brighton we’re terrific. They had a plan. They believed in it - and it’s very evident they believe in their coach as well. They played through - and all round United.  And let’s not forget they sold their two best players for £100m in the summer.

So why couldn’t Ralph ten Hag’s United have done better? They were hopeless. Nothing has changed since Rangnick picked his last team. Nothing. No - I’m sorry. They’ve got a 5’8” centre-back that’s likely to have the arse ripped out of him most weeks now that proper No9’s are back in fashion. Who’s idea was that for goodness sake? 

Ten Hag has talked a good game since his appointment. He delivered nothing on Sunday.

I saw Henry Winter argue in The Times that United have got the right coach - but the wrong squad and owners. Really? Have Brighton got a better squad? I don’t think so - but their coach got them playing. Ralph ten Hag looked lost on that touch line.

VAR was also hopeless I’m sorry to say. McTominay should’ve gone off. Brighton should’ve had a pen - and United’s goal should’ve been disallowed. If it wasn’t handball - McGuire was off-side - and of course he was ‘active’. He forced the own goal.

So why was Mike Dean not explaining why VAR got all this so badly wrong in The Mail today? Mike Riley got him to column so that he could.  Might it be that there’s no defence so Dean didn’t write his piece?

Haaland was terrific at West Ham. What a start. There’s one word I associate with him - ‘timing’. His runs were devastating. Perfect. And what about his pen? I’m always worried when a taker leaves the ball on the spot for too long. Haaland waited for the whistle BEFORE he put the ball down - and then quickly took his kick. He had no time to think about missing - and gave the keeper no time to think about saving it. Timing. 👍🏼 

I was sorry to see some coach’s taking the piss out of the new 5-subs rule - but it was inevitable.

Chelsea made 5 changes late on at Goodison in order to interrupt Everton’s momentum (when they got some). The ball was in play only 47 minutes at Everton. Newcastle made 5 to disturb Forest. Liverpool made 4 as they hung on at Fulham. Fans at Tottenham had to watch 10 changes in all.

I’m not a fan. It wasn’t a necessary change. There’s talk of playing a minimum of 60 minutes before games end - but we’ve added this change and it allows coaches to slow games - kill games when they want with endless changes. Far from ‘’saving’ the game as Klopp argues - it’s another change that is more likely to ‘kill’ it.