FILE PHOTO:June 2, 2017 BT Sport’s Steven Gerrard ahead of training Reuters

Former Liverpool and England captain Steven Gerrard was confirmed as Aston Villa’s new manager on Thursday as the 41-year-old ended his three-and-a-half year stint with Rangers.

Gerrard emerged as the favourite for the Villa job after the Midlands club sacked manager Dean Smith after a run of five successive Premier League defeats.

In a statement, the club’s CEO Christian Purslow said Gerrard’s “ambitions, philosophy and values” matched the club’s.

Gerrard was in charge of Rangers for three-and-a-half years and last season broke arch-rivals Celtic’s nine-year domination to lead the Ibrox club to a 55th Scottish title on the back of an unbeaten league campaign.

Villa will be Gerrard’s first senior coaching role south of the border and the former midfielder, who played more than 700 games for Liverpool between 1998 and 2015 and won nine trophies at the Anfield club, said he was proud to be appointed.

“Aston Villa is a club with a rich history and tradition in English football and I am immensely proud to become its new Head Coach,” Gerrard said in a statement.

“In my conversations with (owners) Nassef (Sawiris), Wes (Edens) and the rest of the Board, it was apparent how ambitious their plans are for the club and I am looking forward to helping them achieve their aims.”

Villa’s recent loss of form has left them in 16th position in the table and only two points off the relegation zone.

While Gerrard has never coached in the Premier League he was in charge of the Liverpool Academy for a while and helped develop some of the club’s young talent.

Purslow said that and Gerrard’s outstanding work at Rangers made him the standout candidate.

“He took the brave decision to test himself in the intense and high pressured environment of the Scottish Old Firm,” Purslow said. “His subsequent achievement in winning the Premiership title with Glasgow Rangers really caught our eye as did his experience in Europe.

“It has been very clear in our discussions with him that Steven’s coaching ambitions, philosophy and values entirely match those of Aston Villa.”

Gerrard’s is the first major appointment since the club’s American owners took over.

“We are excited he has agreed to lead us in the next phase of our ambitious plans as we look to build on the progress made since Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens took over the club in 2018,” Purslow added.

Gerrard’s departure from Rangers is a blow to the Glasgow club although hardly surprising as he has always expressed a wish to test himself in the Premier League.

In a statement Rangers chairman Douglas Park thanked Gerrard for restoring the club back at the top of Scottish football after a tumultuous decade in which they were relegated to the bottom tier after a financial meltdown and insolvency.

“He has provided us all with some unforgettable moments, not least his delivery of the Scottish Premiership title back to Ibrox last season having not lost a match in the entire league campaign,” he said.

“In European competition, he has restored the good name and credibility of our club on the continent and leaves us in a very healthy position on the pitch.”

Gerrard thanked Rangers for giving him the opportunity to begin his managerial career.

“Helping them secure a record-breaking 55th league title will always hold a special place in my heart. I would like to wish the players, staff and supporters the very best for the future,” he said.

Villa’s first match under Gerrard will be at home to Brighton on Nov. 20.

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