Steven Gerrard said he felt excitement, relief and pride as he started his Aston Villa reign with a 1-0 victory over Brighton.
After a tight first 84 minutes, Villa broke the deadlock through Ollie Watkins’ excellent finish, having cut in from the left, before centre-back Tyrone Mings smashed home a second from an angle
It ended Villa’s run of five straight defeats and gave them a vital three points going into a tricky run of fixtures. Gerrard was visibly and audibly buzzing after the game, admitting wins like these are like “medicine” for what he misses from his playing days.
“It’s a mixture of excitement, relief, pride really. Because I can’t be any more proud of the players. Some were only around for a couple days in the week, everything we asked them to do in the main they followed the structure and delivered a really good performance in the end.
“These are the buzzes, the highs you miss as a player. That is the reason I wanted to stay in the game. It is my medicine if you like. I love winning, I love competing, I love seeing players happy, smiling, feeling good about themselves. We were a bit tense at times today, it wasn’t all perfect, it was understandable that the players and crowd were a bit nervous.
“I think you’re trying to control your emotions. You’re kicking every ball. I want to be there on the side for my players. I want to coach from the side. I want them to see me. I want to be visible. I want to help them, guide them, so they carry a game plan out. Inside me is what was inside me as a player. That will to win. That drive and the energy.
Gerrard was full of praise for substitute Ashley Young, whose fine work set up Villa’s opener for Watkins, describing the 36-year-old substitute as like an “outer layer” of the coaching staff.
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“I know him extremely well and I must say he’s been absolutely outstanding when I walked through the door. His leadership, his standard-setting. We see players like him as an outer layer of the staff, we need to lean on him. He was ready today and can play in many positions.”
Gerrard resisted the temptation to play on the front foot and go toe-to-toe with Brighton at Villa Park, spending large amounts of the game out of possession.
But Villa’s players stuck to their gameplan, according to Gerrard, who added that the players deserve the adulation after a tough period.