Reports surfaced this morning that Dean Smith could be sacked should Aston Villa not pick up a result this weekend against Chelsea but is he entirely to blame? I am not too sure.
I will be honest, when Smith was handed a new four-year deal in November I questioned why? Don’t get me wrong, I will always be in his gratitude for last season and helping Aston Villa return to the Premier League. Did he deserve a pay rise? Yes. But a four-year contract extension for an unproven Premier League manager?
There are positives and negatives to Dean Smith. When Villa are playing well, they are very good on the eye but the problem is he hasn’t solved our defensive issues. He insists on using zonal marking which our players have clearly struggled with and I still don’t believe he could tell you who is strongest eleven is or what our best formation was. But is it unfair to put all the blame on the manager?
Villa’s backroom staff are not immune from blame either. They are there to support Smith through the good and the bad times. The problem is, many fans do not understand what his backroom team are actually doing.
John Terry’s role is often questioned by the faithful. As a top defender during his playing days, fans struggle to understand why our defence is so bad. But I could turn this around and say that not all coaches who were defenders go on to be defensive-minded coaches. And Smith was also a defender during his playing days, albeit not at a high level.
Terry was said to have been bought in to bring the squad closer together. The playing squad seem to have a good relationship generally – if you take away the reported Danny Drinkwater and Jota bust-up.
Richard O’Kelly is not mentioned as much but is generally Smiths go-to man. He was his assistant at Brentford and would most likely follow Smith should he move on in the future. What is O’Kelly’s input at the club?
Even Neil Cutler who is largely regarded as one of the best goalkeeping coaches in the game but we have watched on as all our goalkeepers have made costly errors this season.
I could go on, but that is just three of Dean Smiths 19-man backroom team. Should they take any of the blame of am I merely clutching at straws?
Ultimately, the players are the ones who are on the pitch. Regardless of what some say when results are going against us, it isn’t a bad squad. On their day, they are more than capable of giving most sides in the Premier League a game.
Smith can only pick what he believes to be the best team on the day. Apart from making substitutes, he can’t predict the consistent errors that the players make, can he?
The players need to take a long hard look at themselves and take some of the blame also. Or once again, is it unfair to put blame on the players if they are simply not good enough?
SUSO AND PURSLOW
Many Villa fans do believe that we are in the position that we find ourselves in because of the signings that were made during the summer. The finger then gets pointed at Suso who is the head of the recruitment team.
Is Suso to blame for leaving us so light on the wings? Or for the fact that we have signed unproven players who are making the errors?
Or we could look at Christian Purslow who ultimately steers the ship at B6. Purslow is quite open with fans and often meets them at FCG meetings. He comes across as a very ambitious man who has the best intentions for Aston Villa Football Club. But does he take the blame for ultimately giving an unproven Smith a four-year deal? Or for bringing Suso and co. to the club?
Ultimately, everyone has to take the blame in some way or another. I feel having written this article I have posed even more questions than answers.
I do believe that is is the wrong time to play the blame game in my opinion. Aston Villa has to somehow, including the fans at least stick together and fight for Premier League survival until it is impossible for us to survive.
Once the dust has settled on the season, then we can look back and re-assess. Hopefully, then, we can learn our lessons and become stronger for it. Mathematically we are still one win away from getting out the bottom three and should we finish 17th, its a position we all would have taken last summer.