‘Mud has flown my way before’: Steven Gerrard determined to ride out storm

Steven Gerrard is determined to ride out Aston Villa’s difficult start to the season and is adamant he can cope with the increased pressure, saying he is used to “mud” flying in his direction.

Gerrard has acknowledged the heat is on before his team face the daunting task of blunting a “superpower” in free-scoring Manchester City when Pep Guardiola’s side visit Villa Park on Saturday. Villa have lost four of their past five league games, including their last three.

After Villa’s home defeat by West Ham last Sunday, Gerrard conceded he was concerned about his future given the lofty ambitions of the club’s billionaire owners. “We live in a world where when you’re in this situation there is going to be lines and comments and opinions,” the Villa manager said. “Some will be fair. Some will be right. Some will be exaggerated. Some will be far-fetched. That’s the world we live in, I certainly appreciate that. This is not the first time criticism or mud has flown my way. I’ve been around the game a long time and for me, it motivates me more.

“It’s a time where you’re challenged and the heat’s on you. And the so-called pressure is on you. It’s time to step forward and show everyone that you can handle it, that you can cope with it. And back yourself and back the people around you that you can get through it. My ambitions and my energy and thoughts for this club have not changed, they’ve only got bigger and better. People’s opinions can be changed very quickly in this game and that’s what I intend to do.”

Villa rejected three deadline-day bids from Arsenal for Douglas Luiz and Gerrard is convinced the Brazil midfielder, who was open to the move, will refocus. “It boiled down to being a collective club decision,” Gerrard said. “Obviously the timing, coming so late in the window, we felt it wasn’t the right decision. I have no doubt he will reset himself to help us moving forward. He is a player I rate very much. I’m very pleased from a personal point of view.”

Villa, who lost 2-1 at Arsenal on Wednesday night, clinched late deals for Jan Bednarek and Leander Dendoncker from Southampton and Wolves respectively, the former on a season-long loan. Bednarek was also wanted by West Ham but the prospect of regular game time before the World Cup and a positive conversation with Gerrard convinced the Poland defender to move to Villa Park.

“One minute I was going to West Ham, another Villa,” Bednarek said of deadline day. “There were a lot of conversations. It was a tough problem but a good problem. I went to bed very happy [after signing for Villa] which is the most important thing.”