The Villa Appetiser: Aston Villa v Swansea City 2018
It’s an new era for Aston Villa – with supporters hopeful that Dean Smith can buck the recent trend of false dawns.
With John Terry making a return (though not as a player, unfortunately), the new appointments appear to have the overall approval of the Villa faithful, if the Villa Park sell-out is anything to go by.
Local lad Smith has caught the eye of Villa fans for some time with the attacking football of Brentford, and we were never able to beat the Bees with him at the helm.
With Solihull-born Potter leading Saturday’s visitors, it’s an all-Midlands affair in terms of the managers.
It’s a tough first game for Smith despite the prospect of the ‘new manager’ effect. He himself, was on a winless run of five games at Brentford, so will be extra keen to start with three points.
15th in the league table with the 12th best home record.
Last five matches at home: W 1, D 3, L 1
11th in the league table with the 7th best away record.
Last five matches away: W 1, D 3, L 1
Dean Smith on his new job
“Working hard is a given, in any job.
“What they’ll get from me is respect and honesty.
“I want them to work and train at an intensity.
“I’m a believer in what you do on the training pitch being what you take into a matchday.
“I’m looking forward to working with the players and making sure they take that on board.
“I want us to play at an intensity and I believe we have got the players that can go and do that.
“It feels really good (to be here). I suppose a lots been made of the emotional tie in being a Villa fan as a kid.
“The other side of it is I’ve been involved in professional football for over 30 years.
“I’ve certainly earned the seat I feel.
“My aim as a player was to play for Aston Villa but I never got to that standard. It’s great to be here now as head coach.
“It’s a massive football club. I’ve been fairly relaxed about it to be honest.”
Potter on Villa Park trip
“It’s probably as tough an environment [as any] to go into, to be honest.
“They’ve gone from quite a negative, toxic atmosphere for the home team, where for the away team you think if you keep things quiet for a bit of time then the supporters would sort of turn on the team and manager.
“Now it’s completely different. John Terry and Dean Smith, the supporters are going to be right behind them.
“It’s going to be quite an emotional afternoon with Sir Doug Ellis’ sad passing recently as well. He was hugely influential at the club and in football as well.
“It’s going to be a fantastic atmosphere, an unbelievable one I would say and a real tough challenge for us.”
Potter on Dean Smith appointment
“It’s a smart move. Dean Smith is a top coach, certainly his Championship knowledge is great and the way his teams have played.
“Brentford were one of the best footballing teams in the league and had a really good structure, identity and an understanding, which is credit to him.
“Then you’ve got someone of John Terry’s stature with his experience at the club, so he knows the club as well and is ready to sort of learn and offer his undoubted knowledge and influence in the changing room. I think it’s a sensible move from Aston Villa.
“I don’t think you should see it as a threat, I think you should have as many good people around you as possible because that improves the environment.
“Dean will have confidence enough in what he’s done and what he’s achieved, how he works and then I think he’ll use good people like John to help himself get better.
“That’s what good coaches do. I don’t see any problem with that.”
2nd January 2012 – Aston Villa 0 Swansea 2
Goals from Dyer and Routledge secured a first ever Premier League away win for Swansea City against McLeish’s Villa.
This defeat came just two days after Villa had beat Chelsea 3-1 away!
One to Watch
Oliver McBurnie – The striker has finally been given the chance for regular game time at Swansea after several loan spells, and he’s their top scorer this season.
Tammy Abraham has scored 31 league goals in his career – ALL 31 WERE scored from inside the box.
Facts to Sweep Under the Carpet
What an occasion for lifelong fan Dean Smith as he leads out the team at Villa Park.
He’s got plenty of difficult decisions to make ahead of Saturday’s match, though.
Will it be Nyland or Bunn in goal, or could Moreira make a league debut? Will Hutton carry on in the back four or could Taylor return, with Bree at right back?
There’s also a couple of statistics that Smith will be hoping to correct. None of the last six permanent Villa gaffers have won their first league match in charge – Houllier was the last to achieve this, in September 2010 against Wolves.
As well as his own five game winless run, Smith will also be looking to avoid what could be a five game winless streak for Villa should we not pick up maximum points on Saturday. Given our recent history against Swansea, this could be tricky.
We’ve lost our last five league matches against Swansea (all in the top flight) – it was of course a defeat at home to Swansea that served as the last straw for Sherwood’s employment too.
“It’s a smart move. Dean Smith is a top coach, certainly his Championship knowledge is great and the way his teams have played” – POTTER ON DEAN SMITH APPOINTMENT
Why Villa Have Got This Game in the Bag
It never really seemed like Bruce had ‘lost the dressing room’ as the cliche goes, even though the team weren’t playing well.
With this in mind, unlike previous managers, Smith will find the players in good spirits, and subsequently more eager to learn from his ideas.
Saturday will certainly be a baptism of fire for Smith, but Swansea are finding Championship away days difficult.
They haven’t scored a first half goal in an away league game since December last year. They’ve played in 16 away games since then, with the 10 goals scored all coming in the second half of games.
We mentioned our poor record against the Swans earlier in the article, but that referred to Premier League encounters. Outside of the top flight, Swansea have lost all five of their away league games against Villa (although these did take place between 1936 and 1972!)
Intriguingly, Swansea are the only Championship team yet to score from a set piece. Unlucky for them, because Villa have conceded more set piece goals (at 11) than any other side.
The appointment of the former Walsall man is reminiscent of Sheffield United who hired Blades fan Chris Wilder when they were struggling in League One, and were then led to promotion.
While Smith does not have promotion experience on his managerial CV, hopefully the Villa squad will give him a better chance to showcase the brand of football he’s renowned for.
There’s a lot of attacking quality in our squad, particularly the in-form Tammy Abraham who could come back to haunt the Swans after a spell at the club last season.
It could be an exciting time for Villa fans. Let’s hope it starts with a win on Saturday.