Steven Gerrard sacking: Four ex-Rangers backroom staff axed by Aston Villa, Austin MacPhee remains, Purslow gives reasons

Aston Villa have terminated the contracts of most of the backroom staff that joined Steven Gerrard from Rangers after dispensing with their manager late last night.

Gary McAllister, left, and Tom Culshaw, right, are among the staff to join ex-Rangers boss Steven Gerrard in departing Villa Park.
Gary McAllister, left, and Tom Culshaw, right, are among the staff to join ex-Rangers boss Steven Gerrard in departing Villa Park.

The Villa board acted swiftly in the wake of the 3-0 defeat by Fulham on Thursday evening by sacking Gerrard, with the club sitting 17th in the English Premier League and only out of the relegation zone by virtue of goals scored. Gerrard had become increasingly unpopular with the team’s supporters, with many calling for his head during the game at Craven Cottage. The former Liverpool midfielder leaves less than a year on from joining Villa from Rangers, with chief executive Christian Purslow pointing at a lack of “continuous improvement”.

On Friday morning, Villa announced that Gary McAllister, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milsom and Scott Mason have all left the club. The quartet followed Gerrard to the Midlands from Ibrox, while ex-Blackpool boss Neil Critchley, who only joined them in the summer, has also been axed. Current Scotland assistant coach Austin MacPhee remains in post, however, and will assist caretaker manager Aaron Danks for Sunday’s match at home to Brentford.

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Purslow said in a statement: “The board has come to this decision following a full evaluation of results and performances over the calendar year. We were clear when we appointed Steven that we set an objective of continuous improvement but that has not been achieved despite everybody’s best efforts and we believe the time is right to make these changes now. The process of appointing a new head coach is underway and we will update supporters as soon as possible.”

Gerrard was sacked immediately after Aston Villa's 3-0 defeat by Fulham on Thursday night.

Early candidates for the job include former Tottenham and PSG manager Mauricio Pottechino, ex-Arsenal boss Unai Emery and Sean Dyche, who is out of work after leaving Burnley earlier this year, although reports suggest Thomas Tuchel, who was recently fired by Chelsea, is not interested in the role.

Life at Villa started reasonably well for Gerrard, but a poor end to the 2021/22 campaign left him little wriggle room for a bad start this season. Backed in the transfer market, Gerrard has not been able to get a tune out of his team and the decision to strip Tyrone Mings of the captaincy and give it to Scotland midfielder John McGinn has also not worked out the way either would hope. Injuries to key players such as Diego Carlos and Lucas Digne have not helped, but too many players, such as Philippe Coutinho, have not performed well enough. Only two league wins at this point of the season forced the club’s hierarchy to act, mindful of the disastrous relegation that hurt them six years ago.

For Gerrard, this is a bruising episode in his managerial career. Having guided Rangers to the Scottish Premiership title and through the knock-out stages of the Europa League, the 42-year-old’s stock as a head coach was very high, with multiple English clubs linked with him before he was headhunted by Villa and signed on a three-and-a-half year deal. He lost his trusted coaching sidekick, Michael Beale, to QPR during the summer and many believe the Villains have suffered as a result. While Gerrard no doubt made the right move in leaving for Villa last year, he will now need to rebuild his reputation as one of England’s up-and-coming managers.

Aston Villa's Scottish captain John McGinn looks dejected during match at Craven Cottage.