Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard
London (AFP) - Steven Gerrard was sacked by struggling Aston Villa after a dismal 3-0 defeat at Fulham on Thursday, while Leicester climbed off the bottom of the Premier League with a 2-0 win against Leeds.
Gerrard paid the price after his team were booed off at full-time by Villa’s furious fans after a wretched display extended their winless run to four matches.
Having won just two matches this season, Villa are above the relegation zone only due to their slight goals scored advantage over third-bottom Wolves.
Former Liverpool and England midfielder Gerrard won the Scottish title as Rangers boss in 2021, ending Celtic’s long period of dominance.
But he has been unable to build on that impressive work since moving to Villa Park to replace the sacked Dean Smith last November.
Speaking at his post-match press conference, Gerrard had vowed to save his job.
“I’m a fighter, I will never, ever quit anything whether it’s football or in life. We will see what happens. I’ll continue to fight unless I’m told differently,” he said.
However, just minutes after Gerrard had spoken to the media, Villa announced the end of Gerrard’s first Premier League managerial role.
“Aston Villa Football Club can confirm that head coach Steven Gerrard has left the club with immediate effect,” a statement said.
“We would like to thank Steven for his hard work and commitment and wish him well for the future.”
Former Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino has been linked with the Villa post, along with ex-Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel and former Burnley boss Sean Dyche.
Fulham kicked off without a win in their previous three matches, but Villa were unable to take advantage as Gerrard’s final match produced a fittingly depressing result.
Harrison Reed opened the scoring with a fierce strike from the edge of the area after Villa failed to clear a corner in the 36th minute.
Issa Diop had to block Ollie Watkins’ effort on the line as Villa briefly threatened.
But Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz was shown a second-half red card following a VAR review of an altercation with Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic.
- Villa collapse -
That was the signal for Villa to collapse to a second successive defeat after last weekend’s 2-0 loss to Chelsea.
Matty Cash’s handball led to a penalty that Mitrovic converted for his eighth goal this season in the 68th minute.
Rubbing salt into Gerrard’s wounds, Villa defender Tyrone Mings put Neeskens Kebano’s cross into his own net for Fulham’s third goal in the 83rd minute.
Elsewhere, Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers earned some breathing space with a victory that dragged Leeds into the relegation fight.
After failing to win any of their first seven games, Leicester have taken maximum points in two of their last four matches.
Leicester took the lead in the 16th minute when Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall sent Dennis Praet away down the right flank.
Dewsbury-Hall’s cross was intended for Harvey Barnes but Robin Koch slid in and poked the ball beyond the stranded Illan Meslier into his own net.
Barnes added the killer second goal in the 35th minute.
Jamie Vardy backheeled to Dewsbury-Hall on the edge of the area and he found the unmarked Barnes, who steered his third goal of the season under Meslier.
Leicester’s climb to 19th place pushed Nottingham Forest to the bottom of the table, setting the stage for the Foxes’ crucial clash with fellow strugglers Wolves this weekend.
“It is going to be a slow season for us I feel but the players have performed well and we are starting to get some results. Tonight it was very good,” Rodgers said.
Leeds are languishing in 16th after seven games without a win and only goal difference keeps them out of the relegation zone as the pressure mounts on boss Jesse Marsch.
“Right now we need to fight and we need to stop the bleeding,” Marsch said.