IT could be the result that changes the course of Steven Gerrard’s career. Or it could simply have delayed the inevitable at Aston Villa.

One thing is for sure, it won’t take long to find out. In a matter of weeks, the draw with Manchester City will either have kick-started Gerrard’s season or just bought him time that was ultimately futile.

Gerrard was on the brink on Saturday evening. Defeat to Manchester City may not have been enough to tip him over the edge, but he would have been perilously close to losing his job after a wretched run of form in the opening weeks of the season.

A defeat to newly-promoted Bournemouth on the opening day of the campaign was an ominous sign for Gerrard and victory over Everton a week later didn’t provide the momentum that was needed. Losing away to Arsenal at the end of the month could be forgiven, but the back-to-back reverses against Crystal Palace and West Ham United rightly raised questions about Villa on the back of another significant tranche of transfer deals.

Gerrard needed a result. Leon Bailey’s equaliser that cancelled out another strike from Erling Haaland would have given Gerrard encouragement and Villa could even have pipped Pep Guardiola’s side to all three points as they produced their finest performance of the season so far.

“The players have come together and they’ve put an incredible amount of effort in, [and] followed instructions,” Gerrard said. "I knew this job was huge and I know our run of form hasn't been good enough.

"I'll always take the hits, that's my job, we have lost too many points this season and we need to do things slightly differently.

“We have to use this and grow our results. I'm proud of the players but there will be no pats on the back today - it's a big draw but it's still just a draw.”

It is wins that Gerrard now needs and a run of fixtures that starts against Leicester City on Saturday offers opportunities for Villa. Matches with Southampton, Leeds United and Nottingham Forest precede the visit of Chelsea, while Fulham, Brentford and Newcastle United are also on the schedule before the end of next month.

By then, the situation could be very different for Gerrard. If he is still in position come the end of that sequence, it will surely mean that he has turned the corner and survived another scare in a managerial career that has brought incredible highs and crushing lows.

Whatever unfolds and however the future plays out for Gerrard, Rangers fans should wish him well. Almost a year on from his Ibrox departure, there is no need to hold a grudge or hope that their former boss fails in his first crack at the Premier League.

The manner of his departure for Villa Park understandably angered and hurt many but time – and a clearer understanding of the situation – should have softened their stance towards Gerrard.

He had become somewhat disillusioned by life at Ibrox. Key relationships had been damaged and the vision that he had for the future no longer aligned with those that he had to have full trust and belief in for those loftier targets to be met.

Gerrard delivered the most emotional and meaningful title of them all as league flag 55 was won. It was seen as an end, but it should also have been viewed as a beginning.

The opportunity was there for Rangers to kick-on, to go again and go bigger. Instead, the board blundered and the chance, perhaps a once in a generation once, was gone at Ibrox.

Within weeks, so was Gerrard. The timing was far from ideal for Rangers, but it wasn’t what the man himself had in mind, either.

Every Old Firm manager has a shelf life. It is a job that wears you down, one that is all-consuming, and there comes a point when a natural end is reached.

For Gerrard, that would have come after four seasons. He had failed in the Champions League but was on course to deliver title 56 and that achievement would have been the perfect way for him to bow out at Ibrox.

Circumstances ultimately dictated differently. Time should have healed the wounds, though, and supporters should remember what Gerrard did for the club rather than continue to castigate him for the way in which he left it last November.

Without Gerrard, there would have been no 55. Indeed, the core of the squad that reached the Europa League final and is now a Champions League team would not have been together had Gerrard and Rangers not taken their respective leaps of faith with each other in 2018.

Gerrard was the right man at the right time for Rangers. He arrived with stature and standards, he had the drive and the vision that was required as a club, not just a team, was transformed and set on the path to glory.

He himself would not deliver enough silverware and there were frustrations and failures throughout his tenure. His impact cannot be overlooked, though, and his legacy should not be forgotten.

Enough time should now have elapsed for supporters to have forgiven Gerrard for his exit, and it would be churlish of them to be hoping for their former boss to fail and to see him lose his job this term.

There is no need for lingering animosity or to wish Gerrard ill-will at Villa Park and he should always be welcomed back to Ibrox with appreciation. The fanfare that greeted him on day one would not be out of place all these years on.

That situation is for further down the line. In the here and now, Gerrard has his current fanbase to appease rather than those who used to chant his name and he once again has critics to silence and doubters to win over.

It could have been the beginning of the end for him at Aston Villa. Time will tell if Saturday was the start of the recovery job for Gerrard.