Former Liverpool defender Glen Johnson, like most people, believe it’s written in the stars Steven Gerrard will manage his beloved club Liverpool one day, but thinks his old teammate won’t want to follow Jurgen Klopp’s act at Anfield. 

Reds legend Gerrard made the decision to swap Glasgow for the Midlands last week after taking the Aston Villa hotseat following a three-year managerial spell at Rangers, and Johnson believes he made the right call to move to the Premier League in order to cut his teeth in a more challenging division before going on to manage his former club.

“Timing in football is everything,” said Johnson. “I think Stevie will definitely be manager of Liverpool one day, but when that seat opens up, we’ll never know what the situation will be and where Stevie is in his career.

“You don’t want to follow (Jurgen) Klopp! It’s like trying to follow Sir Alex Ferguson at Manchester United. It’s those roles where you need to take it at the right time, but you never know when the right time is.”

And while Johnson believes it could still be a while before Gerrard makes the move back to Merseyside, he thinks it was the right time for him to move to England’s top flight after doing everything he could in the Scottish Premiership.

“What he’s done at Rangers at such an early stage in his managerial career has been amazing,” said Johnson of Gerrard. “He’s built a good team around him. Maybe he did what he could up there. No disrespect to Rangers but they’re never going to be competing at the top of the Champions League, and there’s only so many seats that are taken in the Premier League where most managers want to manage, so I’m not surprised that he took the job (at Aston Villa). It’s another hurdle in his career and I think he’ll do a good job.

“There’s only so many opportunities that come around to manager Premier League clubs. This seat was open, and if someone took it then they’d maybe be there for 10 years. I think it is the right time for him to leave (Rangers). He brought them back from the dead, so it’s a good time to take on a new challenge and get Premier League experience.”

While many have suggested it’s a risky appointment for Villa to make at such an early stage in Gerrard’s managerial career, Johnson doesn’t agree and says there are risky elements to every appointment in football.

“For Villa, any new appointment is a risk and yes, he’s young, but he’s proven that he’s done a good job. It’s not ‘super risky’ and I think it’s a relationship that could work well.

“They’ve had a rough spell, but I’d say Villa are definitely good enough to stay up. There are at least three teams worse than them, and if Stevie gets them playing then he’ll easily keep them clear of relegation and build them up next season.”

Johnson’s former side host Arsenal this weekend, and while the Gunners head to Anfield in good form, having gone eight top-flight fixtures unbeaten, the ex-England international expects Liverpool to come out on top given the huge gulf in quality between both teams.

“It’s certainly the biggest gap between Liverpool and Arsenal that there has been in a very long time. If you look at Liverpool, they’re fighting for titles and going deep in the Champions League, while Arsenal aren’t even competing in the top four. At the moment they are absolutely miles apart, but they’re also in different stages, to be fair.

“Liverpool have strong foundations, whereas Arsenal have got Mikel Arteta in and given him time, which is great, but it’s going to take time for them to build. They’re a great club, and I don’t think it’ll be too long before they’re back competing, but they are still miles away right now in terms of competing with Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea to win titles.

“Outside of West Ham, Arsenal are probably the Premier League’s form team at the minute. They’ve turned it around after their tough start to the season, but I expect Liverpool to break them down and win 2-1.”

Liverpool have a tough run of fixtures coming up, including Arsenal at home, while they travel to Porto in the Champions League and face the small matter of a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park at the beginning of next month. Johnson believes the Reds will focus on the Premier League as a priority.

“The Premier League will be most important to Liverpool. That’s their bread and butter, and anyone who wins the Premier League deserves it. You don’t fluke results or anything, because it’s fought for over a long period of time and that literally proves who the best team is.

“I think it’s tough to say, and I would love to see Liverpool win a trophy this season, but it’s too tough to call at the moment. I can’t pick a winner for the Champions League. Whoever can make the least mistakes in the Premier League will give themselves the best chance, because the top three of Liverpool, Chelsea and Man City are so far ahead of the rest, they’ll win most games.”

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