Dean Smith and the impossible job

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In October 2018, Aston Villa sat 14th in the Championship table. After a summer that had brought the club to its knees, returning to the promised land looked a long shot at the third time of asking.

Dean Smith was appointed manager of the team he had supported all his life and immediately delivered on his assignment – promotion.

Back in the Premier League for the first time since the worst year in the club’s history, Smith’s Villans survived on the final day. Beating the odds, he retained the club’s place at the Premier League table.

This season, Villa’s pride are hunting the established League heavyweights. Signings such as Bertrand Traoré – a player who reached the semi-finals of the Champions League last year, as well as Morgan Sanson, who played six times for Marseille in the same competition this year, have strengthened the club’s sights. Add to this Champions League winning John Terry’s influence at the training ground, the scent of European blood is in the air at Villa Park.

Scrutiny

For the driving force behind such drastic improvement in such little time, Dean Smith receives astounding scrutiny for his work.

Whilst the role of the head coach is to absorb flack, naturally, in passing games, the torrent of social media outcry has become almost embarrassing.

After some disappointing performances recently, waves of ‘supporters’ declaring the need for a new manager have been rife among our ranks!

Villa have had nine permanent managers since the 2009/10 season and had been in a decade of decline, Dean Smith being the second longest-serving man on that list acts as a reminder that belief and trust are so often key to such a role.

The likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger proved that given the trust of those around them, they could achieve greatness.

Whilst I refrain from referring to Smith in the same category as the aforementioned titans, the example of Sir Alex shows a similar early path to that of Smith’s.

Both managers took over their club’s at similar times during poor seasons. Smith began life at Villa languishing in the second division, only to promote the team seven months later. Ferguson oversaw a crusade from second bottom to eleventh in his first year in Manchester.

Ferguson eventually took his club to the pinnacle of club footballing accolades. It took time, but he was backed by his club to achieve greatness.

Aston Villa fans haven’t seen the club play a UEFA fixture since 2010 and Dean Smith is trusted to be the man to bring European nights to a new generation of fans.

Patience will be the determining factor in his quest.

Dean Smith fronting Villa’s Vision

NSWE, represented by Christian Purslow at Aston Villa, have outlined their aims for the club. In a statement last year, the owners revealed their ambitions.

“We will not be satisfied until we achieve our goal of bringing sustainable success to Aston Villa at the top tier of European football”

Sustainable.

Being able to maintain a certain rate or level, is what a simple google search delivers.

Smith discusses Villa's progressBeing sustainable can mean an awful lot in football, be it performances, finance, or results. One aspect the Villa hierarchy treasure is sustainability in leadership.

The owners understand that to achieve the best results, those in charge of delivering must be placed in nurturing environments. Dean Smith is still only in his third managerial placement – the Premier League being the highest level he has coached at.

To achieve what Villa ask of him, he must be given time. Thankfully, those in charge of the club have such philosophy rooted, for some fans, such mentality appears to lack. Looking back at the achievements over the past few years may be helpful in realising the magnitude of Smith’s fulfilments.

A promotion, successive seasons in the Premier League, and two trips to Wembley have all been product of Smith’s stewardship.

The year that’s passed without fan’s churning through the turnstiles has us all a little unsettled. That walk up the Holte End steps seems a lifetime ago for so many.

When we return, the team will be well on the way to top-flight establishment. Arguably the first time that’s been the case for almost a decade.

Dean Smith gave us our club back and deserves far more respect than he’s been afforded lately.

If all goes well, who’s to say the banner of Smith plastered onto the North Stand will be the only recognition of his services…

8 COMMENTS

  1. You are only 17? You are mature beyond your years!
    I’m 58 and will be happy if we win the FA cup sometime in the next 10 years! Maybe also the Europa conference league cup shield??
    Keep up the good work!
    UTV

  2. Well said. Cant believe there are fans asking for Dean Smith to be sacked. What he has done, with backing I know is nothing short of remarkable. He is the best manager at Villa in years. Honest in is own evaluation of himself during the COVID break, lost his dad and delivered. Yes the results have gone off the boil lately, but 10 games to go on 41 points, I will take that. Yes we have missed Jack and been labeled a one man team, like any other team bar Man City who loses their main player. We have had many a bad game with him too. It’s football. Those other players have had a great opportunity to step up and some clearly haven’t. Keep the faith people and get behind the manager and the team through the good and bad. Up the Villa

    • Absolutely Paul. He’s an ever improving manager who cares far more about the club than most that came before him. We need fans back at VP to properly appreciate the turnaround he orchestrated. UTV!

  3. It’s lovely to see perspective among some of our younger fans. I’m someone that wants our best players to be loyal, and sees the relationship to be two directional. A lot of sm fans have turned to FIFA game fans, no scope for players mental health, or their ability to communicate across language barriers, just an expectation that they play to their stats. And when they don’t, it must be Dean’s fault. Your perspective is refreshing and a joy to read

    • Glad you enjoyed my article! Had to get that off my chest after seeing the recent social media meltdowns.

  4. Aston Villa is still a club learning about the premier league of the world. That’s manager’s and players. I’m not glad that
    J G is injured, but Villa and Dean Smith need to learn how to be a good premier team without him too. Look at Man City. Do they struggle without the brilliant deBruyne.
    Good manager’s don’t suddenly become bad ones. Dean Smith hasn’t had two full seasons in the premier division yet. And I always thought the media’s hype on Villa pushing for Europe was naive. Let’s all be proud of how Dean Smith and Villa have done so far. Wouldn’t we all have been pleased to have thought they would be 10th and safe at this point in time. Yes, I’ve been disappointed in performances lately. But Villa are ahead of schedule in their plans to be a top premier club.

    • I agree with that Ron. This season more than ever, consistency will be hard to find. Re-building ourselves into a European team will take time, and patience. I definitely think we’re going in the right direction. With the youngest squad in the league, improvements over time will only be natural. UTV!

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