The appointment of head coach Dean Smith at Aston Villa as Steve Bruce’s replacement certainly saw plenty of eyebrows raised amongst the fans.
Some, like me, thought it was a cracking appointment given how he has a focus on attacking football and development and his philosophy to the game is a marked difference from how we have operated for a number of years, where like a computer game is about how much we spent rather than how said player would be used in our system – if we had one.
Others, given his managerial record, were less than impressed and worried about how he’d make the step up given some of the egos in our dressing room and the expectation levels that surround Villa Park.
His October arrival saw a small spike in form and performance levels, but we certainly had some down periods when injuries hit and the multitude of errors in the transfer market over the summer came to bite especially in the heart of defence.
For most, even during that darker period under Smith, they could still see a plan, a desire to play a certain way and some improvements even if results weren’t following. March saw the real turn and whether you think it was Tyrone Mings, the return of the Jack or simply things better clicked in the squad as a whole – well, we rode the wave all the way to Wembley and took victory over Derby County in the Championship Play-Off Final to set up top flight football in 2019/20.
Questions naturally remain about the future and we’ll certainly know more about Smith and what he’s capable of when we can assess his time over a full season, but given fans can reflect on a first almost full season in charge, the boyhood Villan has certainly won over plenty of doubters.
Job done. That’s all you can say really. I had my doubts, I didn’t really warm to the appointment and when Grealish was out and he seemingly didn’t have a plan B I did worry I might be right…but the proof is in the pudding and we got up, so credit where it’s due.
I always thought he was the right man for the job and he is proving me correct. Long may it continue.
Old Trinity Villan
Excellent. He came in and I enjoyed watching Villa again. And then he gets us promoted. In Deano we trust.
Stephen Jay Hawkings
My heart says 10 out of 10 for getting us promoted. My head says closer to 7 out of 10 as we went large periods of the season looking very poor. We failed to adapt to life without Grealish, and the form was only turned around once he returned. That said Smith has done a great job of getting the best out of Grealish, a quality player now starting to show his potential. Overall I am looking forward to seeing what Smith can do for us next season.
9.5 out of 10, gaining promotion has him hitting the objective, .5 deduction for not getting Sid Cowans back to lead all youth developments.
Mark A South
10/10. Took a little while to get us going but I think few of us expected to be a Premier League team at the first time of asking, especially considering the state we were in when he arrived. Good to have our Villa back!
Outstanding. From when he took over to now, the progress is nothing short of astonishing. And following the dismal run from January to March, we had no right to make the playoffs, never mind get promoted. I’d say we are now 12 months ahead of schedule, which is brilliant work.
Given the mess he inherited I’d have to say exceptional.
Expected him to do well in the Championship although I thought promotion would have been in season 2. I’m looking forward to seeing how he handles the greed league.
Done what he was employed to do as the first attempt, he is like a breath of fresh air. One of our own and would not swap him for Klopp or Pep, that in itself says it all.
Excellent so far. Obvious nerves that he can cope in the “big league” but I think he will. Love the style of play and philosophy and also think he’s a very level headed and intelligent man. I like the fact that he’s a “Villa Man” but I don’t think that will win us any games. If he can keep his composure under the intense scrutiny of the Premier League then we already know he can do the coaching bit.
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