The announcement of Aston Villa’s new boss Dean Smith, threw up several what-ifs. Would Theirry Henry have taken the job, if the AS Monaco opportunity hadn’t materialised? Would Jose Mourinho’s long-term assistant, Rui Faria, had done any better as a number one than Carlos Ancelotti’s right-hand man, Paul Clement? Would John Terry have had a chance at being Villa’s number one, if he had completed his coaching badges in time?
The thinking that Smith had been third or even fourth choice to be the new Aston Villa boss is largely immaterial now, and the way it has eventually panned out, he could potentially end up being the best option for Villa.
Looking beyond the ‘One of Our Own’ hype (he’s a Villa supporter, like you and I), Smith has a real chance to help revolutionise the club on the footballing side and create his career legacy.
To the marquee name ala Henry, the Villa job would have carried the big risk of devaluing their stock in the game, like many recent Villa managers before them. There was little infrastructure on the footballing side present at Villa and the whiff of FFP issues is still very much in the air.
It’s a job not for the faint of heart.
Villa needed a man committed to the cause, who could help perform footballing surgery for the best of the club, as opposed to using it as a stepping stone for himself.
Smith already had insight to the club as a life-long fan, but more importantly, he’s faced Villa five times in recent Championship seasons and never lost. He fully knows Villa’s weaknesses from first hand experience and analysis.
Exposing them is one thing, fixing them is an entirely different matter though.
We will discuss the ins and outs of what Dean Smith can bring to Villa, based on his career so far, in another longer article, but in terms of first impressions, as we discussed in the latest MOMS podcast episode, as well as Smith bringing more attacking and progressive football to Villa, he has to make it winning football too.
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As we point out on the podcast, while opportunity has very much knocked for Smith, he got the job more on his coaching prowess and potential, rather than tangible achievements as a manager in terms of results.
His highest finish in any league across eight seasons, whether with Walsall or Brentford, has been 9th.
Oddly, this season at Brentford, after a start full of optimism this season, Smith’s last five games were winless and his Brentford team still hadn’t won away this season. Some Bees fans were even questioning whether he could take them to the next level.
Now that is Villa’s concern. Can Smith take the club to the next level of the Premier League?
Villa have been sensible with the length of his contract at two-and-a-half years, which will no doubt be swiftly extended, if the next year or so proves to be successful.
Smith is believed to have tripled his £300k-a-year Brentford salary, but you have to say that he may have increased his chances of promotion three-fold when you consider his newly acquired resources.
It’s a massive shame that Smith doesn’t get a summer preseason to begin the transition of the footballing style and ethos of the team. Still, the Championship has offered up few outstanding teams so far this season, so Villa are still in touch of at least the play-offs, despite the woeful start that saw Bruce lose his job.
Hopefully, simply by bringing some clarity to the way they will play and unshackling several of the players, Smith should make progress straight away.
It will not be hard to improve on the recent footballing approach of the club.
As mentioned before we’ll discuss all the facets that Smith brings to the job in a longer form piece and also a more considered podcast episode.
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MOMS #53.5: Dean Smith Reaction – Beyond #OneOfOurOwn Hype
A bonus two-part episode first of all reacts to Aston VIlla’s appointment of Dean Smith as Head Coach. David Michael and Chris Budd give their first impressions and play the devil advocate at times to make sure it’s not just a hype job.
Brentford fans, as well as being happy with Smith’s style of play, have often raised concerns about their gaffer not being able to kill teams off, so can he add a more ruthless mentality to his make-up at Villa? As he’ll need to beat his career best 9th place finish! Also, what’s John Terry’s role in the new look Villa coaching staff?
In the second part of the show, Dan Rodgers joins the duo to answer listener questions – from JT, Villa’s lack of continuity from academy to first team, Villa’s best back four. Memories of Cahill, Ridgewell, Baker,Clarke, Graham Turner and pyjama bottoms are all visited.
Also, the show features some Villa-isms from Dean Smith himself.
The show is also now available on Spotify.
Enjoy & UTV
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David Michael – @oldmansaid
Dan Rodgers – @avfc_vilr
Chris Budd – @BUDD_music
Producer/Editor – David Michael
Voices – Dan Rodgers
My Old Man Said – https://www.myoldmansaid.com
Villa Underground – http://www.villaunderground.com