Following on from Sunday’s announcement that former head coach Dean Smith had parted company with Aston Villa following our run of overall form in 2021, the outpouring of respect (and in fairness plenty of regret) has been good to see when you consider his time with us and our return back up the table.
There’s no need to go back over either the highs or lows we saw under Smith, but I think we are all thankful that we don’t have to worry about the situation potentially turning toxic, and we can all move forward simply grateful for the better times.
With Smith understandably going radio silent as the news filtered through, his ‘statement’ via the League Managers Association has actually come out pretty sharpish really and you can clearly see both his pride at taking charge of the club, as well as his sadness that it ended this way.
“To be appointed the Head Coach of Aston Villa, the club I supported throughout my childhood, was and remains something I am extremely proud of.
“My initial remit was to try and lead the club back to the Premier League within a two-year period. Sitting in 15th position in the Championship when I arrived in the October, managing to lead the team on a record-breaking ten match winning run and into the play-offs, where we would eventually win promotion thanks to a memorable day at Wembley Stadium, was without doubt an achievement that I will always look back on with pride.”
Repeating what Christian Purslow had said about us effectively being 12 months ahead of our plan when we returned to the Premier League, Smith goes on to talk about the work done to establish us back in the PL but whilst he acknowledges results this season haven’t been good enough so far, he remained confident that when players returned to ‘full fitness’ our fortunes would’ve turned around.
“My belief was that we would continue our progression this season. I understand the football industry and of course, I respect the owners decision, but I felt that with important players soon returning to full fitness we would achieve a top half finish. One of my roles as Head Coach at Aston Villa was to improve individual players to enhance on-field performance for the team. Playing a part in developing a player who would be transferred for a British record transfer fee, along with creating a pathway for a thriving academy, are all areas in which I feel I’ve more than contributed. I hope the culture and environment that has been created at both Bodymoor Heath and Villa Park will continue to flourish.”
Naturally Smith goes on to express his gratitude and thanks to our owners, Purslow, the players and other staff, but his final words are for the fans.
“Finally, to the Aston Villa fans who showed me nothing but love and support from my first day in the job to my last, a heartfelt thank you from my family and I. The Aston Villa board’s aims and ambitions are to take our club back into European football and I would love nothing more than seeing the club achieve that. I’ve always said that I was simply a custodian of this great football club, and my aim was to leave it in a better place than I found it. I believe that together we have achieved that. UTV.”
A very classy statement for me as he’ll no doubt be gutted, but I think everyone would agree that when you look at the club as a whole, he definitely leaves us in a better place. We have a squad that should be performing better, we are yet to see the best from our summer captures and we have some impressive talent coming through.
It’s a shame it wasn’t to be given Smith is one of us, but he leaves with the thanks of the vast majority for the part he played in getting us back on track.