ZIMBABWE international midfielder Marvelous Nakamba will have to put in more solid and good performances to impress new Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard and secure his future at Bodymoor Heath.
Nakamba, who had been reduced to cameo substitutes appearances under the previous manager Dean Smith, was recalled to the starting line up in Gerrards’ first game against Bright and Hove last Saturday.
With Gerrard preferring a 4-3-3 formation, the Warriors star slotted in at holding midfielder with John McGinn and Jacob Ramsey on either side for the struggling Birmingham-based club, who are now in 15th place on the log.
The Liverpool legend got off his Villa reign to a perfect start after goals from Tyrone Mings and Ollie Watkins gave the home side a comfortable 2-0 win.
This was only Nakamba’s fourth start of the campaign while also managing four other substitute appearances under Smith.
At the start of this season, there was a lot of speculation regarding Nakamba’s future at the club with interest from Turkey and other English clubs after he failed to nail down a starting place in Smith’s starting line-up.
However, the 27-year-old decided to stay at Bodymoor Heath and fight for his place in the squad.
With Smith having been shown the exit door by Villa’s American owners, in came the Liverpool legend Gerrard, who had shown his mantle in his early coaching career by guiding Scottish side Rangers to the title last season.
Although Villa got the three points in Gerrard’s first game in charge, it was not all plain sailing for Nakamba as he had a topsy-turvy outing.
The hugely influential Birmingham Mail gave the Warriors star a rating of six out of 10 after claiming that he struggled to assert himself against Brighton’s midfield of Yves Bissouma and Adam Lallana.
“Nakamba struggled to grasp Brighton’s game plan with Bissouma, Lallana and others seeing too much of the ball, hence Brighton’s 103 more passes in that first half. Booked on the hour for a late one on Lamptey,” was how the paper graded the Zimbabwe international.
With Villa set to take on the likes of Crystal Palace, Manchester City, Liverpool, Leicester City and Chelsea before the January transfer window opens, Gerrard wants to give all the players including Nakamba a chance to impress him before he starts to make changes.
The only time the fixtures seem to let up for the Villains is when they take on Leeds, Burnley and Norwich, who are all below them on the log.
“It’s too early to set targets long-term, for me it’s all about short-term. We move up a couple of positions in the league but we’ve still got a lot of work to do to get away from the position where we are in.
“We just need to keep focusing on the next game and take as many points as we can until we get in the position where we can assess it come January,” Gerrard said of his transfer plans at Bodymoor Heath.
Villa sporting director Johan Lange will be in constant dialogue with Gerrard over transfer targets and the budget available.
“I think we’re always working every day of the year to identify players with the potential of coming in to strengthen Aston Villa.
“Steven had two sessions during this week and half of the squad have been unavailable and we haven’t had a match yet.
“So we will work closely together over the next six weeks to analyse the situation and we will be well prepared as we always are, if we find it is relevant to go into the market in January,” Lange told the Birmingham Mail yesterday.