Plenty of eyebrows were raised when Aston Villa fans discovered that Jack Grealish had not only returned to the starting lineup following his lengthy spell out with injury for the weekend’s clash with Derby County, but that head coach Dean Smith had also handed him the skipper’s armband for the game.
With the new captain selection obvious, plenty of fans thought it would end up elsewhere and with the assumption that even if Jack did play, we’d want him to focus on himself as he made the return, few thought our Academy graduate would be the one selected.
It proved to be an inspired choice though as Grealish reacted well to the responsibility as proved by his individual performance, and the team clearly took a lift from his return anyway as we strolled to a comfortable 4-0 victory to reignite our season.
Speaking to the Official Site following the game, Smith explained it was a no brainer in his eyes and not only did he feel it would bring the best out of the 23-year-old, he knew the team would react to it as well. Additionally, there’s no denying that it’s a statement about the future given last summer’s sale talk.
“I had no doubts about giving it to Jack. I knew it wouldn’t be a burden to him and that he’d relish it – it’s his club, he’s a Villa fan. He’s got a long-term contract at the club. When I came in, I said how I wanted him to lead us into the Premier League. I think he can do that. He’s the future of this football club. He’s a really good professional as well, and I felt if I didn’t give it to him it could be overlooking the leadership qualities I know he has. I felt making him captain could enhance those.”