Gary McAllister Interview – Reflections on Gerrard’s Failure and Emery’s Progress

Gary McAllister Interview

Last week the Betway website ran an interview with two-time Aston Villa assistant manager Gary McAllister, which MOMS has been granted permission to use the Villa-related section of. The interview was done before the last couple of rounds of games, so the Champions League qualifying picture has shifted slightly since then.

McAllister served at Villa under Gérard Houllier during the 2010/11 season, whom he filled in for as Villa’s caretaker manager, when Houlier was taken ill towards the end of the season. A double win over Liverpool and Arsenal in the final two games helped propel Villa to 9th place, the highest Villa had finished before Unai Emery took over.

More recently, McAllister was then Steven Gerrard‘s number two at Villa Park, and in this excerpt below, he reflects both on that ill-fated period and the progress the successor Emery has made since.

How impressed have you been by Aston Villa so far this season?

Aston Villa are a good club with good people and the appointment of Unai Emery was a smart one. He’s a proven top manager with excellent experience and he’s got them playing well. So it’s good to see them getting to play with a rhythm and style which picks up results, especially at Villa Park.

Unai Emery has done an excellent job since taking over from Steven Gerrard, why do you think it didn’t quite go to plan under Stevie?

We were unlucky with our time at Aston Villa. Steven Gerrard made a number of signings and in fact we lost three or four of his major signings in the first couple of weeks due to injury. Boubacar Kamara, Lucas Digne and Diego Carlos all got injured and there were quite lengthy injuries elsewhere in the squad. But not to make any excuses, we lost a few games, and the pressure then builds on you.

What were your impressions of the squad while you were at the club? Did you see the potential for them to perform like this season?

The squad had a lot of good players with capabilities to move up the table and it’s not surprising to see Aston Villa challenging for the Champions League spots and Unai has come in and just got them playing at a consistent level.

Leon Bailey, Ollie Watkins are showing what talent they have, and my eye is always drawn as an old midfielder to the middle of the park. Boubacar Kamara & Douglas Luiz are fantastic players, and they complement each other well. The longer they play together the more confident they become.

Plus, a special mention to John McGinn, who we made captain. He has everything. He can pass well, he can score, he can tackle, and he can lead well. He’s very infectious around the training ground and I’m pleased he is having a good season.

Do you think Villa can go on and finish in the top four?

I think you can never write off Manchester United, and they’re starting to get results now. They’re starting to score goals as well, so can they come with a late push. Spurs have had a good season so far and Steven Gerrard and I came up against Ange, when he was brought in at Celtic. 

He has his preferred way of playing and I like how he communicates with the media, and I can imagine he is straight talking with his players which brings out the best in them. Spurs have Son back and Richarlison is scoring so they are in the driving seat to finish fourth.

For Aston Villa, they are in the race as I believe Man City, Arsenal and Liverpool will fight it out for the top three positions. Aston Villa have the Europa Conference League in their sights and with Unai’s pedigree, it wouldn’t surprise me if they went on and won that competition. Fighting on both domestic and European fronts may be too much for Aston Villa, but if they do it, it would be a massive achievement.

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