Date: 10th October 2019 at 2:08pm
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Today marks the first anniversary of Dean Smith’s appointment as Aston Villa head coach, and what a 12-months it has been. From the promising start to the horrendous run of form and then the record-breaking ten consecutive victories which saw us over the line and into the playoffs. Not to mention that glorious day at Wembley.

Whatever your views on Smith’s initial arrival, his impact has been massive and successful to date – only the most blinkered and jaundiced of Villa fans could suggest otherwise. The mood had turned ugly in the last stages of the Steve Brice era, with fans beginning to turn on each other as well as the club, as cruciferous vegetables were jettisoned and tempers flared.

Smith’s arrival bought calm to the stormy port in B6, his stock raised because he was “one of us” and he just ‘got’ the Villa. After a difficult couple of months leading up to Christmas and the New Year, the stars aligned as the talismanic Jack Grealish returned from a lengthy injury and was elevated to the captaincy – Villa fans in charge on and off the pitch. This was to be our time.

But Smith is only just beginning. Having worked his way through the league pyramid with Orient, Walsall and Brentford, Smith could be forgiven for thinking he had ‘made it’ when he got the Villa gig. Not a bit of it.

According to first-team coach Richard O’Kelly, “Everyone can see the passion and ideas Dean has for the club, but it’s almost like he is just starting. It’s not a case of him reaching his dream job and thinking that’s enough. He wants to come here and really achieve something. He is very focused on what he’s doing, building things, establishing a structure, and he does it really well.

Chief suit Christian Purslow also saw what Smith would bring to the club during a 6-hour interview. “There was a shortlist of four or five candidates. He was the standout candidate. We wanted a coach committed to playing football the right way and a coach that was intimately acquainted with who and what Aston Villa is.”

Villa fans are now reaping the benefits brought in by the boy from Great Barr, and social media has been going mad for Deano:

Some remain unconvinced of Smith’s long-term ability to stabilise the club as a Premier League force and then kick on and challenge, but on what grounds? He’s overseen a complete overhaul of the playing squad in the summer and despite mixed results on our return to the top table, performances have shown game-by-game improvement and things came together in glorious fashion as we trounced Norwich at Carrow Road last weekend.

Signs are hugely encouraging and we now have decent competition for places and cover in all positions, with a much better balance to the squad than we have seen for years (the striker situation notwithstanding!)

 

As mentioned above, long may Deano’s reign at Villa Park continue. We are all on an exciting journey, and I have to agree with ROK – it is only just beginning. Dean is on a steep learning curve, but I would back him to get it right, without question.

It is surely only a matter of time before Dean’s knighthood is conferred on him by perhaps Villa’s most famous fan.


Previous Article by JPA – “I want to lead by eample” – Villa skipper on his determination to kick on this season


Have I mentioned a brand-new book, out now, by Vital’s director Jonathan Fear?

Fear Conquers All is a fascinating look at his battles and victories. You can see all the details, how to buy and the reviews here: https://thefear.net/.

It’s on Amazon (Kindle and paperback) but if you don’t have Prime, it is cheaper to buy directly and means he can donate more to the AVFC Foundation.

If you have already bought the book, thanks a million from JF and if you’ve not already, please leave a review.

 
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