Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard thinks his side showed ‘too much respect’ to Manchester City in the first half of the 2-1 defeat to the Premier League champions at Villa Park, but credited his players for the fight they showed to get back into the game. Villa went into the game off the back of two straight wins under their new boss, but Gerrard failed to retain his unbeaten start despite his side making City work for their three points on the road. However, the Villa head coach admitted that his players took some time to get out the blocks.
Steven Gerrard said: “We showed them too much respect, we were too passive, it took us 10 to 15 minutes to get into the game. But when we started to get a foothold in the game and put some good passages of play together, we conceded a goal, which was disappointing. But at 1-0, that’s okay, you reset yourself, but the second goal was the blow. I said to the boys at half time that it was important that we scored the next goal, we were more positive and had more belief in ourselves. In the second half we really made a game of it. We’ve had the two moments in the second half, the young kid who has come on, it’s a fantastic chance for him, but he’ll learn from that and he’ll get better and have more opportunities in the future with that. The penalty call for me, I believe nine out of 10 referees outside the box will give that as a foul because there’s certainly contact from behind, he gets none of the ball, so I think we’ve got a good penalty shout there.”
Villa fell two goals behind before half-time through impressive strikes from Ruben Dias and Bernardo Silva. Ollie Watkins’ second half strike breathed new life into Villa Park, and Gerrard thought his side’s display in the second period was much better than the first.
Steven Gerrard added: “To a man, in the second half I couldn’t ask for more. We played some terrific stuff and we had some really good moments, not just to equalise, but if we had got the equaliser it might have been an interesting finish. We needed this game at this time, two weeks in, it was a real acid test for us. City, at times, were a level above, at times we know it was a bit of an education for us but we said to the players, ‘let’s make it as difficult as possible, let’s take the game to the wire and believe in ourselves’. For where we are, there’s a gap in the levels, we will keep trying to grow and evolve and reduce that gap.”
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