Is Deano holding back Aston Villa’s development into top Premier League team? A quick answer may suggest he is not. Afterall, hasn’t Smith delivered huge success at Villa Park. Promotion against the odds in his 1st season. Retained our Premier League status in his second season (plus a cup final) and so far he has us in 6th place in the table in his 3rd season. If any of us were offered that the day Smith was appointed we would have been delighted. Is it right to even question Smith’s position now?
To deliver success Aston Villa must be managed as a busines and ruthlessly so. Decisions must be made with the head and not the heart. There is no single player or member of staff that is indispensable, including Jack! The most important people to keep at Aston Villa are Nassef Sawiris and Wes Eden, our owners. The Simple reason for this is because Aston Villa Football Club is not yet a sustainable business and we need our owners continued funding of the club to make it so. NSWE are putting all the pieces in place to make our club great again. The infrastructure, the playing staff, the ladies team, the youth setup, the coaching staff and the CEO and his team managing the club. NSWE are the key to our success!
Deano did brilliantly following his appointment. We had no centre backs and looked like a team heading for a lower half finish in the Championship. In the space of about 7 months Smith delivered promotion to the PL by beating Derby in the playoff final. Incidentally, Derby are now without a manager and rock bottom of the Championship!
Our First Year Back
Due to the poor management of our club prior to Smith’s arrival we needed to buy and integrate a new team to try and compete on our return to the Premier League. This was an extremely difficult task and Smith managed to keep us on about a point per game for the first half of the season. After that we dipped a little and last Jan people called for his head. I was completely against this idea.
The thoughts of getting a Big Sam into our club still scare me. I even saw people post ‘anyone would be better than Smith’. We needed continuity at Villa and we needed the right head coach. We were not going to attract the right manager in the position we were and it made total sense to stick with Smith. Also, Smith was still learning the ropes of the PL and the players were also still adapting to playing with each other. We stuck with Smith and survived to play another year in the Premier League.
Time To Deliver Deano
We are now into Deano’s third season and his second in the PL, it is time to deliver. We have invested further in our squad and have what looks like a very good 1st 11 and one capable of a top half finish. And definitely, it looks like the spine of a squad that is capable of a push for Europe in the next couple of years. Smith’s honeymoon period is over. He has had time with the team and has had time in the Premier League. He must now show continuous improvement.
Questionable Decision making
This is where I think Deano is failing and it is such a key requirement for his job. Although we are getting better it could be argued that this is simply because we have better players available for selection. Martinez, Cash, Barkley, Watkins are all big improvements on last season. But the recurring theme of poor substitutions, questionable tactics, no plan B and poor defending appear to be sticking with Smith. A simple example is one that BFR pointed out. Against Brighton, McGinn was marking a much taller player in the box when defending a set piece, the result was we conceded a goal. Surely Deano should have learned from the Southampton game that this is not a good tactic. Yet yesterday against Brighton there was McGinn making a tall Brighton defender. That is not learning and that worries me hugely.
I am not completely anti Smith. He has us in 6th in the PL and I am enjoying watching Villa play football again. However, as I said earlier, AVFC is a business and it needs to be managed ruthlessly. I was fully behind giving Smith time to prove himself and I did not want him sacked. However, he has now had that time and I think he is showing his limitations.
A unique opportunity
We now find ourselves with a very unique opportunity. At times we look a very good team, we have some great players, we have the golden boy of the media, we are in 6th place in the Premier League. Furthermore, we have owners willing to invest in our club when most other clubs are battening down the hatches. Is now the perfect opportunity to take the next step in our development as a top club and employ an elite manager. 12 months ago we would have had no chance of attracting an elite manager but things have changed and I believe we could now be an attractive proposition. And you all know my next line. It’s time for NSWE to get Mauricio Pochettino in as Villa manager to replace Deano and bring us back to the top of English and European football.