Aston Villa responded to the firing of manager Steven Gerrard by scoring three goals in the opening 14 minutes in a 4-0 win over Brentford in the English Premier League on Sunday.
Led by interim coach Aaron Danks, Villa took the lead in the second minute through Leon Bailey before Danny Ings added two more goals — one coming from the penalty spot.
By that time, Villa had scored as many goals as it had in the last six games under Gerrard, who was fired soon after Villa’s 3-0 loss at Fulham last Thursday to end his one-year stint in charge.
Ollie Watkins added a fourth goal in the 59th for the rampant hosts, wrapping up its third victory of the season and comfortably its biggest.
Villa started the game just outside the relegation zone only because of goal difference but now the team has some breathing space.
Danks said he is prepared to lead Villa for as long as he is asked after a memorable first game in temporary charge.
“It has been a roller coaster of a few days but my full focus was just on today’s game,” he said. “For me, I have been asked to step forward and lead the team with a group of staff, we will keep doing that until we are told otherwise.
“We are in tomorrow morning, we will recover well, we will review today’s game, we will start getting ready for Newcastle and whenever anything changes it changes, but until that point we just keep thinking forwards and moving forwards.”
The Birmingham-born Danks, who was a first-team coach under Gerrard, said he hasn’t thought about getting the job on a full-time basis.
“I joined the club as a coach and to be part of a growth project, to help the club move forward,” he said.
“This club is steeped in tradition and history, it’s got a fantastic academy and we just want this club growing and moving. For me, there is a long-term goal in this football club and whatever role I play in that.”
Brentford manager Thomas Frank is one of the names to have been linked with the permanent job at Villa.
After his team’s defeat, he did not rule himself out of the running but said he has “unfinished business” at Brentford.
“There’s a lot of rumours out there. I realise this is a great club in many ways, but I have said many times before I am pleased in Brentford and I have unfinished business to do,” Frank said.
“It’s football. One thing is for sure, I have a job I am happy for. I love Brentford. That is what I am focusing on. Right now, I just lost 4-0, the only thing I feel is pain inside my body. All other rumours, one way or the other, I am not spending too much time on that.”