Aston Villa’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham ended Steven Gerrard’s tenure at the club and the process to recruit a new manager is underway.
It all unraveled for Villa at Craven Cottage after Douglas Luiz was shown a straight red card for violent conduct in the second half with Marco Silva’s side already one up.
Fulham netted two more goals after Luiz’s dismissal and Gerrard was relieved of his duties roughly two hours following the conclusion of the match.
Villa is now separated from the relegation zone on just goals scored and will play four more Premier League games before the break for the World Cup. Here’s what you might have missed from the trip to the Cottage on Thursday night.
Before kick-off, Villa players got in a huddle and it was goalkeeper Emi Martinez who led a rallying cry.
Gesturing and shouting at his teammates, the Argentine demanded a performance, but Villa didn’t show up.
“If it wasn’t for the goalkeeper it could’ve been worse by half-time,” Gerrard said of Martinez.
“We made Fulham look like a really good team tonight, we wanted to build on the weekend but we never got that, I tried to get amongst them at half-time for a reaction, I could feel it coming and we get a silly sending off and the challenge becomes even harder to climb. Then from there, it became a really tough game, ten men against a good footballing team, the penalty obviously killed the game.”
Douglas Luiz apology
Sent off for violent conduct, Luiz let his frustrations get the better of him when he headbutted Aleksandar Mitrovic in the second half.
After a long walk across the pitch to the tunnel, the Brazilian put his hands up in apology to the away fans who clapped him back, understanding that it was just one of those nights.
Gerrard said of the incident: “Look, there are cameras all over the place. There are a lot of referees in different places that look at different angles. I think you give the referee a decision to make when behave like that on the football pitch. I’ve certainly got no complaints with the decision and it’s really, really frustrating from that moment. There was still a lot of time left at 1-0 and that moment of madness has cost us even more.”
After being on the end of chants from Villa’s traveling band of supporters, Gerrard didn’t acknowledge the away end after the full-time whistle.
He walked around the pitch and out of the direction of away supporters who were heard booing as he escaped down the tunnel.
Gerrard has been criticized for not clapping away fans in previous games, but with the writing on the wall regarding his future after a 3-0 thrashing, he wasn’t going to change that on Thursday night.
The likes of Tyrone Mings and John McGinn went over to the away following and applauded their support, while others, including Philippe Coutinho, went straight down the tunnel like Gerrard.
‘Players getting away with not performing
Former Brighton and Crystal Palace striker Glenn Murray was watching the game for BBC Radio 5 Live.
Before Gerrard’s sacking was announced, he said: “The players that Gerrard has brought in are of a better quality than Dean Smith brought in but unfortunately for him, they are not hitting the heights that we know they are capable of.“
“No one has scored more than one goal for them which, with the attacking prowess they’ve got, is a very disappointing return,” he added.
“A lot of the players are getting away with not performing and everyone is looking at the manager.”
Ex-Villa striker Dion Dublin said on Amazon Prime: “I am finding it hard to find a positive. I feel for Stevie. The Villa faithful will always back you but they will let you know. The fans are allowed to voice their opinion.”
Former Newcastle striker Les Ferdinand added: “He was captain marvel as a player; he was the one who lifted the team, who dragged them through tough times. He can’t do that from the bench.”