Ashley Young hailed by new Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard

The 36-year-old has been “outstanding” for the new manager.

By Press Association Published: 21 November 2021 - 11.11am

Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard will continue to look to Ashley Young to set the standards after the versatile winger helped get Villa Park rocking again on Saturday.

Gerrard, who left Rangers during the international break to replace Dean Smith as manager, admitted to leaning on his experienced former England team-mate since his arrival at the club.

And it was the 36-year-old’s introduction from the bench against Brighton that provided the catalyst for Villa’s 2-0 win.

His driving run from the edge of his own penalty area and nicely-weighted pass teed-up Ollie Watkins for the opening goal after 84 minutes, just as the game looked to be drifting towards a goalless stalemate.

With over 500 games under his belt, Young will be an important player to have around and Gerrard acknowledged as much.

“I know Ashley extremely well and he’s been absolutely outstanding since we walked through the door. Not just on the training pitch but his leadership and standard-setting,” said Gerrard.

“We see players like him as an outer-layer of the staff, if you like, who really help us when we need to lean on him.

“He was ready and the big thing about Ash is he can play right-back, left-back, he can play as an eight, a 10 or wide. That’s what good players allow you to do as a manager, allow you to play in different ways.”

Saturday’s win was Villa’s first after six successive Premier League defeats and their first at home since September 18, but Gerrard is not getting carried away.

“We need to go and back it up now,” he said. “It’s only three points, it’s only a start. There are areas we can improve and grow and more weeks on the training pitch in the weeks and months will make us better and make us stronger.”

Before Watkins’ superb curling strike broke the deadlock, and Tyrone Mings lashed home the second goal, Brighton had looked comfortable and had created the better chances to score.

The defeat extended Albion’s winless run to seven Premier League games, which includes five draws, and boss Graham Potter admits his team must figure out how to turn tight matches into wins.

“If you look at the games we have played, we’ve played Liverpool, Arsenal, Crystal Palace away, that is a local derby for us, so there is a bit of context there,” said Potter.

“But it was the same a little bit last year, we drew a lot but we didn’t lose too many. It is taking that next step, that is the challenge for us as a team. You can see the performance, you can see what we want to do. The next step is how do we turn that into wins?

“I don’t want to be disrespectful to Aston Villa. They are a good Premier League side with good players and they are fighting for the points.

“It was Steven’s first game, there’s a lot of motivation around, so they are not going to give up and give it to you easily but clearly that is where we need to make the next step.”

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