Michael Beale leaving Aston Villa to manage Queens Park Rangers will have rocked Steven Gerrard as the pair have worked together for four years. The 41-year-old was a big influence at Bodymoor Heath and was regarded as a co-manager by the players, so he’ll be hard to replace.

Villa wasted little time bringing in another assistant manager, poaching Blackpool boss Neil Critchley, but Danny Mills isn’t sure he will have the same impact as Beale as the latter did so much work in his former coaching roles. The 41-year-old would run the training sessions, do most of the talking and run the meetings, so Critchley has big shoes to fill.

Mills told Football Insider: “Beale did a lot of the work at Rangers. When you lose your coach, it’s a vital role. I’m not sure how much of the coaching Stevie G takes. The coaching, the managerial situation has always been a number one and number two as a partnership. It’s always worked in that way.”

Villa finished 14th in the Premier League this season with 45 points from 38 games. They finished further down the table with fewer points than the previous campaign, so Gerrard has a lot to prove in 2022/23. He won’t have his trusted right man of four years to do it with either, so Villa will be in uncharted territory.

Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris have backed their manager financially and may fund a couple more transfers before the new season, but the coming campaign may be an indication of how vital Beale was.

In other news, Aston Villa told to sign ‘strong’ Ben Mee