ASTON Villa has been something of a graveyard for managers with Scottish connections.

In the modern era, Tommy Docherty, Billy McNeill, Martin O’Neill, Alex McLeish and Paul Lambert have all tried and failed to bring sustained success to England’s second city with the latter two recalled with particular ill-affection by Villa supporters.

It wasn’t always that way, however. George Ramsay, the club’s greatest of the post-war era and a native of Perthshire, won six league titles and six FA Cups during a remarkable 50-year tenure in which he served the Midland club as player, manager, secretary, adviser and vice-president.

It says much about those who have tried and failed to replicate Ramsay’s exploits that their combined efforts have brought a solitary league and FA Cup triumphs, a European Cup and five league cups – four less than Ramsay achieved.

Few expect Steven Gerrard to last a fraction of the time Ramsay dedicated to the Midlands club. Should he end Villa’s long wait for a trophy of substance – even a Champions League place might do it – then he will have been considered a major success and pastures new will follow; should he fail, well, Villa have had nine different managers in the last 11 years since Gerard Houllier and probably won’t hesitate to make him a 10th victim if things start to go awry.

For Villa fans desperate for a saviour, this wasn’t a bad start, though. A 2-0 win that had Villa Park rocking at the final whistle will have given them a glimpse of what Gerrard’s leadership and motivation might bring.

They may have been pessimistic about his arrival but there was a tangible sense of excitement as fans bustled their way along Brookvale Road in anticipation of the England legend’s first game and, in his programme notes, he said all the right words.

“The word I have used to describe the club in the media this week is iconic,” he wrote. “The training facilities are first class, Villa Park is a fantastic, traditional football stadium and I know just how special an atmosphere you guys create on matchday. I’m extremely proud to be here and excited for what the future holds.”

Jeff Beck’s Hi Ho Silver Lining provided the soundtrack over the Tannoy prior to Gerrard’s entry, a kind of self-parodying anthem that sums up most of the last three decades at a club awaiting a first trophy since their League Cup win of 1996. The home fans sang lustily nevertheless, and as Gerrard strolled jauntily along the touchline before kick-off it was just possible to imagine what a successful Villa under his guidance might look like.

In his last game in charge in Scottish football, Gerrard’s Rangers team beat Ross County 4-2. It says something about the speed with which his move to Villa was completed that that match took place a mere 13 days before this one.

In that regard, it was always likely it would require time for his ideas to take root. There was plenty of endeavour from his players in the early stages with John McGinn particularly to the fore but there was not much in the way of a tactical plan that was immediately discernible.

Gerrard paced the technical area arms folded for much of the first 45 minutes, his frustration at misplaced passes sometimes visible, not least when Emi Buendia’s ball around the corner played in Danny Ings but had just too much pace for the Villa striker to connect with it.

After sustained Brighton pressure, Leandro Trossard went close to opening the scoring when his shot down into the turf forced Emi Martinez into a smart save before the Argentine was quick to snuff out the danger as Tariq Lamptey arrived at the back post to meet Jakub Moder’s cross from the left. The sparring continued until the interval with Brighton slightly ahead on points.

There were a couple of winks from Gerrard to some young Villa fans as he made his way to the dugout for the start of the second half, as if to suggest that everything was going to plan. Villa certainly began the resumption on the front foot.

Tyrone Mings forced a good save from Jason Steele and, in the same move, Ollie Watkins had an optimistic shout for a penalty. Matty Cash had another much more vocal appeal for a spot-kick soon after but his appeal was every bit as hopeful.

As the game entered the final 10 minutes, there was a palpable tension around Villa Park. But, when Marvelous Nakamba fed Ashley Young, there was a rising sense of expectation. The former England winger made progress through the middle of the park before feeding Watkins who took a couple of touches with his left before shifting the ball on to his right, curling it past Steele with six minutes remaining.

Gerrard invoked memories of Rangers’ 2-0 victory at Celtic Park last October as he ran along the touchline, fist pumping and roaring his approval.

Four minutes later, it was 2-0. McGinn made a surging run on the right and then crossed towards the back post. Adam Webster could only clear the ball as far as Mings and the Villa centre-back showed composure to side foot into the empty net. Cue pandemonium in the stands as Villa Park released the pent-up frustration that has built up around the team in recent weeks.

On this evidence, Gerrard still needs a couple of midfielders – a Glen Kamara type who will do the neat-and-tidy stuff to retain possession and someone with a creative bent. Rangers, who announced record losses of £23.5 million at the start of this month, might not have heard the last from their former manager.