Steven Gerrard sent out a five-point plan as Aston Villa target Europe
Former Aston Villa striker Gabby Agbonlahor has outlined a five-point plan for the Lions and Steven Gerrard as they prepare to embark on another Premier League adventure. Villa finished in the middle of the pack last season but they were efficient and ambitious at the start of the transfer window.
For owners Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens, European football is the long-term goal. Dean Smith was supported, as was Gerrard during the short time he was in charge of B6. Despite that support, there were occasions last season when Agbonlahor, who since retiring has become a talkSPORT pundit, felt Villa had passed up opportunities at key times.
The challenge now for Gerrard and Villa is to maintain a level of consistency and for a number of key defensive personnel to return to the form that saw them finish 11th in 2021. If they can marry those things together, as well as adding more firepower in the final third and continuing to allow academy products to thrive, then Agbonlahor sees reason to be optimistic.
Indeed, he believes that at West Ham United, who have qualified for Europe in each of the last two top-flight campaigns, Villa already have a successful plan to follow ahead of them. Speaking to talkSPORT, the former Bordeaux and Blue striker outlined what he feels still needs to be improved to get Villa to where they want to be.
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“Step one – get a striker,” he said. “Aston Villa have already made some great signings but I would probably have one more striker, maybe a different kind of striker. We have great talent at Watkins, great finishing as well in Danny Ings, but I would have maybe a different option.
“Second step – be more clinical. There were times when Aston Villa were on top, drawing, and they had a chance to win. It will be something that Steven Gerrard will want to take away from his team.
“Step three – getting the best out of young players. Jacob Ramsey has been outstanding in his first full season. I would try to push him as he looks to break into the World Cup squad. That could be a target for Ramsey, and that will help Villa as he will need to perform even better to get in.
“Step four – get more clean sheets. Two years ago they had one of the best defensive records in the Premier League. Mings, Martinez, Cash. If they can get back to more clean sheets it will help Villa to raise the table.
“Fifth step – try to get into European places. Now I feel like it’s time for Villa to move forward. Lots of investment from the owners has helped Gerrard create a team of top players. Now they have to look at what West Ham have done and try to sneak into that top seven.”