STEVEN GERRARD was forced to make the awkward journey back to Birmingham on the team coach just minutes after his sacking as Aston Villa manager.
The club confirmed his axing an hour after full-time of Villa’s 3-0 defeat at Fulham.
But after conducting his post-match media duties, the Liverpool legend still needed to travel back to the Midlands.
And so unemployed Gerrard sat on the team bus with his players and backroom staff for the 120-mile journey up the M40 from West London to Villa’s Bodymoor Heath training ground.
It is understood the former England captain said his goodbyes to the squad when they got back in the early hours of Friday morning.
Gerrard arrived in November 2021 but departed Aston Villa with just two wins from 11 matches this season and out of the relegation zone on goals scored.
Across 2022, he managed just eight wins and was duly dismissed following the miserable evening at Craven Cottage, which saw Douglas Luiz sent off as Fulham blew Villa away.
Fans chanted: “Get out of our club,” at the former Rangers boss, whose demeanour after full-time seemed to show he knew his time was up.
A brief two-sentence statement confirming his exit followed quickly, just moments after Gerrard had promised to fight for his job.
The 42-year-old said: “It’s tough but I’m a man, I accept it, I understand it. It was a tough night for me personally.
“We’ll see what happens, I understand the situation we’re in, I’m a fighter, I will never ever quit anything.”
Villa confirmed Gerrard’s five coaches – Gary McAllister, Neil Critchley, Tom Culshaw, Jordan Milson and Scott Mason – have followed the manager out of the club.
Ex-Tottenham and PSG chief Mauricio Pochettino is among the early favourites to replace Gerrard at Villa Park.
The Argentine is currently out of work but was initially expected to wait until after the World Cup to decide his next move.
QPR boss Michaele Beale, Brentford’s Thomas Frank and ex-Burnley gaffer Sean Dyche are also contenders.
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