I’ve watched Dean Smith’s Villa appointment last October with great interest, when Steve Bruce was sacked I initially thought that his appointment was the wrong one driven more by emotion from the Villa fan base as opposed to getting us back into the Premier League.
However, it wasn’t long after listening to him and his interviews and the opinions of several other Brentford fans that I realised that actually, he probably is the right choice, and not because he is a Villa fan.
I think Dean Smith reads a lot of books about operational management.
When you listen to Dean Smith speak, pay attention…he never talks about ‘talented individuals’ or ‘natural ability’ he talks about the team’s ability to work hard, put in the effort, and to be willing to take on new ideas. After the playoff finals, he referred to the players as ‘sponges’ absorbing new ideas and executing on those ideas themselves, and his quote ‘be a good teammate’ is pretty much lifted from a book called ‘Team of Teams’ by a US General who talks about how they were being schooled by Al Qaeda in the occupation of Iraq and how the army had to turn it around.
I always wondered why Dean Smith’s Brentford team could always beat a team of better individuals managed by Steve Bruce, now it’s obvious, it’s because he was able to build a team that was able to think on their own feet and adapt, whereas back then we were a team which was purely about doing ‘what the manager told them’. It’s clear to me now that he’s trying to do the same here, build a team that can be agile and adapt in games to win them, ‘they always find new ways to win’. It’s also why he’s getting them to do their own debriefs, he wants them to work on their own initiative.
I think Dean Smith will be able to adapt to the next level up, he’s put a focus on learning, which will put him in good stead. The only problem I have a concern about is that he has long periods where he doesn’t win, and I worry whether or not NSWE will stick by him in those times, but I guess we’ll find that out in time.
I think this summers recruitment will not be star names on big salaries, I think Smith will favour players who are intelligent and hungry and willing to learn, even if they aren’t the best footballing talents out there, I think he doesn’t want players who rely on their skills, he wants players who want to develop themselves.
I’m excited about the summer, and really intrigued as to how things will play out. But for now, thank you Dean Smith for giving us our club back!