I began writing this article at around 9pm, with rumours about Dean Smith still in full circulation but nothing yet announced, and it’s aim was to detail the reasons why Dean Smith was the logical candidate for the Villa job; with Terry as an assistant.
It has since been announced my hopes have come to pass and this is brilliant news. I am not going to lie, the idea of Henry did excite me and I was disappointed to see the links break down over the past 48 hours. The potential growth of players learning from a true icon of the game would have been fascinating, yet, despite my hopes it would have been a massive risk. Similarly, Faria has worked THE top jobs as an assistant manager, but being an assistant and being a manager are different things. Therefore, despite all that he learned from Mourinho, we have no idea what type of football the Portugeuse coach would have deployed. In Dean Smith, we now have a manager who not only supports the mighty Villa, but also has already coached a squad to play very attacking, expansive and fluid football at this level, on less than half our budget. Dean Smith as our manager, with Terry involved, is the sort of logical appointment that has been as seperate from our club as success has; perhaps the two are linked…
Dean Smith’s credentials
Smith took the step up from head of youth at Walsall and became their manager in 2011, saving them from what seemed a certain relegation during his first 4 months in charge. This is evidence that Smith can get quick results with a new squad when the pressure is mounting, an invaluable trait for a Villa manager to possess. He then took Walsall to the final of the League Trophy before becoming the manager of Brentford in 2015.
As if by fate, whilst I was writing an article on how Smith and Terry are the correct choices, they have been announced. I have craftily edited it as such and am absolutely ecstatic at this development.
However, one of the main reasons that I am excited Smith is the incredible job interviews he has given every time that we’ve played against Brentford since our relegation. Brentford seem to just always outplay us, their movement always seems levels above ours, and this always allows Ryan Wood to float around the middle of the pitch, dictating the game as he pleases; imagine Grealish in this role with genuine intelligent movement infront of him. Smith has been quoted as saying: “we want to entertain supporters”. ENTERTAIN. this word should be engraved in the mind of every Villa fan after our recent history of turgid, decaying football. In the same interview (which can be found here) Smith talks about how he adapts his team to his opponents but also managed to maintain an attacking mindset. Once again, Smith is bang on the money with respect to what we have been missing under Bruce; taking off all of your teams strikers should never be an unforced substitution. It does not take a genius to work out that this leaves you devoid of an outball and allows the opposition to literally send all of their defensively unoccupied players into attack. Bruce never grasped this, Smith clearly does.
In addition, you have to bring into account the importance of a manager who supports the club. Homegrown players garner the support of the crowd with the ease of a conductor controlling an orchestra, we want to love them and they push us into higher realms of support and passion than any other players. The connection between Smith and the fans should be incredible. I was born too late to enjoy the management of other Villa fans like Little and Gregory yet it only takes one scroll through Twitter to see what the feeling of togetherness meant to the fans – or at least to one of our writers and Villa’s very own financial guru Dave Jordan. In additon, he is not going to insult the fans, this ultimately was how Bruce lost the away support in my opinion. Once you have insulted your fanbase their is frankly no way back. Smith will have our entire support and I for one cannot wait for him to knee slide infront of the bluenoses after we trounce them in the Derby.
(All sourced from Squawka)
For purposes of analysis, the fairest season to compare Smith to Bruce is 2017/18. Both managers had time to implement their styles and assemble squad; although it is quintessential to not the shoestrings Smith had in contrast to Bruce’s millions. We did score more goals than Brentford (71 as opposed to their 61) yet it is worth noting that we scored 5 more from open play than they did. However, this by no means signals our atacking superiority. This is because Brentford created a staggering 558 chances compared to our 430. 128 more chances over 44 games is a lot… especially given the respective quality of squads that the managers had to work with. We were also staggeringly reliant on crosses last season; hence strikers like Hogan looked entirely out of place when in the team. Back when he played for Brentford, Hogan scored 21 goals in 36 appearances and this is because Brentford actually created regular chances with the ball on the deck. Hogan and other strikers of his elk make constant runs, it’s about time we made use of them.
The Return of Terry
There had been several rumours flying around that Terry would return to the Villa in a managerial role, all of which were heavily multiplied by his retirement as a football player. It had been reported that Terry has even been telling fellow players that it is extremely likely he will return in a coaching format so here is my take on that.
Terry has now been announced as our assistant, I am absolutely delighted about this and here is why:
This season there has been a visible hole in the team. This hole is almost certainly the influence of one of England greatest ever central defenders and an outstanding captain at that. Terry knows exactly what standards are required if success is to be acheived and I believe he holds the rest of the squad to these said standards. This visibly rubbed off on Grealish last year who matured and starting hitting the heights that we all know he is capable of. If Terry as an assistant manager can bring our star man back to these levels then that alone credits his appointment.
Furthermore, Terry can hopefully bring order to what has been a chaotic defence. We have conceded 20 this season and lack a central defender or two. My hope is that Terry will be able to nurture one of our younger centre backs and grow them into a first team player. We have some excellent young centre backs at the club and they could not have a better role model. He also knows the players which will make him a vital pool of knowledge for Smith.
Jesús García Pitarch
It has also been announced that none other than the son of God himself has been announced as our new director of football. Much like his namesake, by mere appointment, Jesus has finally rolled over the stone keeping Villa’s structure in an ancient cave of backwardsness. The appointment of a director of football should finally push our club towards consistency in terms of style of play and recruitment. We have desperately needed one for a while so this is also very good news for us Villans; in addition, Smith is used to working under a director of football so this should feel natural for him. In terms of experience, Pitarch was the director of football or both Valencia and Atletico Madrid so he is no mug. On paper this seems like another decent appointment, less exciting than the previous two but the new structure is certainly progress.
All in all, I think we have made some fantastic choices. Dean Smith is instantly endeared to the fans (as one of us) and the appointment of Terry will only further this given his fan favourite status after last season. There were perhaps more ‘sexy’ for will of a better word choices out there, but by going with Smith the owners have given us a sign that they do their due dilligence and will make sensible choices in order to get us back to the promised lands.
Now lets pack Villa Park and turn this season on its head.
DEAN SMITHS CLARET AND BLUE ARMY!
By Callum Richardson