Crystal Palace boss Vieira was ‘one of my toughest fights’

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Aston Villa boss Steven Gerrard says Crystal Palace opponent Patrick Vieira was “one of the toughest matches” he faced as a player, and expects another tough test when they join together as managers this weekend.

Gerrard’s team plays at Selhurst Park on Saturday in his second match since taking charge of Villa.

At his pre-match press conference, the former Liverpool captain said of former Arsenal captain Vieira: “He is a man I have great admiration and respect for, first and foremost as a player.


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“I had a lot of fights against Patrick, some highs, some downturns. He was definitely a player you could really go and compete against. You could kick him, fight him, compete against him, and he would shake your hand after the game. .

“He was a top, top football player and one of the toughest matches I have ever faced in terms of being a player and I expect the same will be the case from the side. I know he’s a winner. “

After succeeding Gerrard’s former Liverpool boss Roy Hodgson at the Palace over the summer, Vieira have seen the Eagles lose only twice in their 12 Premier League games so far this season and are unbeaten in their last seven.

“He started at Crystal Palace really, really well,” Gerrard said.

“He’s changed the style. Roy Hodgson did a fantastic job, he seems to have built on the good work, has become much younger in his recruitment, is different in his style and he has his team flying high at the moment. It will be a tough test, we have great respect for the showdown. “

Asked if there were any particular matches against midfielder Vieira from their playing days that stood out as heights, Gerrard said: “I do not want to sit here and brag, I have to stand next to this guy for 90 minutes and he is 6 feet 5, he is strong so I have to be careful with my words!

“He absolutely terrorized Liverpool in the FA Cup final in 2001. I had the unfortunate task of trying to mark him and he was far too good to me on the day – but we managed to turn the match around and win 2-1, so it ended certainly at a high level for me. ”

He added about the Frenchman: “I think the things we might have in comparison are, when we ended our careers, we definitely went to the beginning to start in terms of the coaching route where we went to academy football (Gerrard in Liverpool, Vieira in Manchester City).) where you can learn away from the cameras and make a lot of mistakes and gain confidence in your pitch.I’m sure Patrick would repeat that.

“He is more experienced than myself to this point, but I really admire the fact that he went to City’s U23 team and really put the work into growing and developing as a manager. I have great respect for that.”

Gerrard, appointed by Villa as successor to Dean Smith on November 11, got off to a winning start on Saturday as his side beat Brighton 2-0 at home, ending a five-match losing streak.

“The victory has certainly lifted the place,” Gerrard said. “There’s a lot of smiles going on, a lot of people are enjoying their work, which is great to see, and now we have to try to back it up and build on that going into the next fight.”

Gerrard was asked to set up a private Instagram account for his players and said: “We use all sorts of different methods to pass information to players. Instagram is another way, next to your likes of WhatsApps, to post information and reminders for players.

“We have entered a time when we have not had the luxury of a pre-season, so we try to cut as many corners as we can to get the identity and standards over to the players that we expect as a staff group. “

Villa midfielder Douglas Luiz was able to return to action against Palace after three games out due to a hamstring injury.

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