Steven Gerrard has said he welcomes the pressure inherent in the challenge of reviving the form of English Premier League Aston Villa as he prepares to take charge of the club for the first time against Brighton on Saturday.
Villa are 16th place after five consecutive defeats and Gerrard told the club’s website: “I like a challenge, I like a risk.
“I think this club will suit me because the fans are very passionate and there is pressure here to win. For me it is about bringing everyone together to believe we can do exciting things together.
“[Gerrard’s predecessor] Dean Smith is someone I’ve got a lot of admiration and respect for. The success he’s had here and the respect he’s gained… he’s going to be a hard act to follow.
“I think everyone knows I’ve got the job for a reason. The form of late has dipped and for me it is very much a case of getting involved and analysing the squad close up, because there is a lot of talent in this squad.”
Gerrard said his appointment was never in doubt after hearing of Villa’s interest, bringing a swift end to his role at Rangers whom he steered to their first Scottish title in a decade last season.
Gerrard added: “I first heard about Aston Villa’s interest on the Wednesday, I had a call from my representation and when the call sunk in, I wanted it to happen very quickly, because the opportunity was too big.
“I’ve learned an awful lot in the past three-and-a-half years. I’ve lived under that pressure to win every week. There was a big building job to do there and I can walk away with my head held high.”
The 41-year-old added: “One thing I can guarantee the supporters, the players and the staff here is that when I commit to something, I’m all in.”
Meanwhile, back at Rangers, Jermain Defoe is among a four-man caretaker team.
The Scottish champions have confirmed player-coach Defoe, B-team boss David McCallum and his assistant, Brian Gilmour, along with goalkeeping coach Colin Stewart will lead the first team “whilst the recruitment process for a new manager continues”.
Giovanni van Bronckhorst emerged as the favourite to take over from Gerrard. It was reported that the Dutchman held talks with the club in London over the weekend.
The former Ibrox midfielder led Feyenoord to their first title in 18 years in 2017 as well as two KNVB Cups, and has been out of work since ending a 12-month spell in China at the end of last year.
The Premiership leaders have a league semi-final against Hibernian at Hampden on Sunday and face Sparta Prague in a crucial Europa League contest four days later.