AT around six o'clock on Saturday evening, Steven Gerrard gathered with his family in a corporate box high in the upper reaches of Villa Park. There were smiles and hugs, and at one point he held a young child in his arms, breaking off from the get-together to survey the old ground with her clinging to him – and to drink in some of the last drops of the celebratory atmosphere that had been uncorked a little more than an hour earlier.

For 83 minutes of a turgid stalemate, Gerrard's debut as Villa manager looked destined to an end in a 0-0 draw against Brighton. Then, out of nowhere, came goals from Ollie Watkins and Tyrone Mings that lifted the roof. The tension that had preceded those late strikes was palpable, there had been the first hints at grumbling from the stands and then suddenly their negativity vanished. The roars of approval suggested there was a belief that something about the club had been revitalised. Yes, 10 minutes was all it took for Gerrard to win them round.

In so many ways it was reminiscent of how Rangers had been energised and emboldened by Gerrard's arrival at that club, the Villa fans added to the sense of familiarity by breaking into their own rendition of Every Saturday We Follow.

Yet, here was Gerrard almost 300 miles from Glasgow charging down the line in the same stylish suit and overcoat that had become a uniform at Ibrox, his fist pumping as he celebrated with Villa fans. Soon after, he was marching towards the Holte End to applaud the fans with his players in tow. In his post-match interview he wore a Villa badge pinned to his lapel. For those who had witnessed him giving part of his heart to Rangers over the three years he was in Scotland, this summed up the transient nature of modern football and the relationship its players and manager have with their clubs and, by extension, its supporters. Those Rangers fans who were tempted to watch Gerrard's proclamations of undying love for his new club in the aftermath might have done so with a large dollop of cynicism.

Gerrard had an answer for any sceptics, however.

“I’m excited. I was authentic today," he said. "It was not a show for anyone. I just wanted to show my appreciation to the supporters. They were a bit tense at times and it was a fantastic sight at the end of the game. There was a lot of relief and a lot of emotion at the final whistle. The fans helped us a lot today. You saw the reaction of the Holte End. They certainly played their part today. We had lost five on the spin and you could tell the crowd were a little bit edgy at times. That was understandable.”

Of course, unwavering support from the fans is conditional as Gerrard found during his second season at Ibrox when he was on the brink of walking away from the club. He has goals to meet and what will constitute success at Villa is a nebulous thing. He will be pitting himself against four of the best coaches in the world – and it could be five with Manchester United's next manager still to come. And in choosing Villa, he has put his reputation on the line but it is a challenge he does not intend to shy away from.

“I am under no illusions as to the standard of coaches in this league. But, I am proud and privileged to have this opportunity. The week has gone smoothly and the players have been fantastic. Friday night was the first time I could be on my own and have a couple of hours to look forward to the game. It was exciting. There were some nerves and butterflies but I couldn't wait for kick-off. We will not get carried away. This is something to build on and now we have to back it up.”

The expectation is that Gerrard will have his squad fortified in January. Heaven knows he could do with a sprinkling of creativity from somewhere based on Saturday's performance but one player he will not have concerns over is John McGinn. The Scotland midfielder capped a fine week at club and international level with a stirring performance that drove Villa on when they needed it most.

Gerrard was quick to recognise the role the 27-year-old played in helping his side eke out a result on Saturday agreeing that he was “superb” but he knows, too, that there is a long way to go before Villa are a credible force again – it is, after all, 26 years since they last won a trophy. Having ended Rangers' long wait for a title, he thinks he knows what the recipe is.

“The key to anything is having a structure and a base, and clean sheets help you win football matches. But, we still need to get the balance right to make sure we can move forward. It is a good start with a clean sheet and there are a lot of positives. But it is only a start. It's my job to change their mentality to become winners. That is what I want to do.”