Has Dean Smith been a good manager for us up to now?

On the face of it, it’s a daft question, but bear with me.

I’ve seen it said that Dean Smith has no proven history and indeed his highest previous finish was ninth in any league.
The insinuation was that our current fifth position was a basic requirement with the squad that we have.
So why was it looking incredibly likely that we would finish nowhere near fifth under Steve Bruce, who is the most successful manager ever in getting promoted to the premier league?
The comment frankly irked me, big time, hence the question.

The way I see it, we should indeed be finishing at least fifth with our squad.
But if you factor in how Bruce ruined the team, with his playing players out of position, destroying our defence and his incredibly negative tactics, I actually think Smith has done really well.

Looking back, it’s now fairly obvious that we underwent a new manager bounce when Smith came in.
And what followed was a really poor run, where we conceded so many points that I was thinking relegation looked a better bet than promotion just a couple of months back.
Some fans were even calling for Smith to be sacked, although in fairness, most were calling for him to be given time.

And now we’ve just won 10 on the trot, for the first time ever.
Which makes me wonder what some people want and why they would even hint at questioning what Smith has done for us this season.

All I know is, if you’d have asked me if we could get promoted on the day Bruce was sacked, I’d have said we didn’t have a prayer, because we were so disjointed.

Yet here we are, with a guaranteed play-off position and a team on a massive roll, playing good footy, who every team in the league is really scared of playing against.

Perhaps the comment was made to simply raise some debate and it was all tongue in cheek.
Except these views were expressed on Smith’s appointment, as well as very recently.

I can partly understand Villa fans not liking Alex McCleish’s appointment, but what was there to dislike about appointing a Villa fan as manager?

16 Comments

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  1. Avatar
    Pat 57 April 24, 2019 at 12:44 am .

    Up to now he’s been absolutely brilliant. You’re right that there was a bit of a new manager bounce but every real fan knows that you can’t change a team overnight, it takes time. Smith stuck to his guns.

    Looking back the pieces have fallen into place somewhat quicker than expected and we’re now playing the best football we’ve seen in many years. We’re in the play offs and on a roll just like Fulham were last year. However, I think we’re a better team than they were and I’m as confident as I can be that we have a good chance of returning to the Prem.

    If we don’t then we’ll do it next year for certain. If we make the Prem I’m not sure if Smith will be successful there, no-one can, but he should definitely be given the chance.

  2. Avatar
    Hitchens60 April 24, 2019 at 7:30 am .

    I was one who was pleased to see Smith appointed because I’d always admired the way Brentford played and how he assembled such a good team on a limited budget and often having to rebuild after selling their better players ( I don’t think It’s unfair to say Brentford are a ‘selling’ team – it’s how they survive). On the other hand I was also concerned about his ability to be a winner when compared to say Chris Wilder at Sheffield United and tbf Smith still has to prove this by getting us promoted.

    There is no doubt we were handicapped during the poor run by injuries to two of our best players both in absolutely key positions so it’s hard to judge how quickly Smith would have got the team playing (as they now are) without such long term injuries.

    A big plus has been his ability to bring in players in January that have made a real difference. Carrol aside, Mings and Hause (despite initial misgivings) have been excellent and key in cementing a leaky defence. Add to that his recall of Steer and Green then imho he has been a very good manager for us.

    Just a word about Bruce – given what we now know (vis finances and his own health) and the terrible personal emotional turmoil he went through last season I can understand the poor decision making that defined the end of his managership. He did sort the club out when it was in a real mess but it was right for him to move on so I wish him well.

  3. Avatar
    Hitchens60 April 24, 2019 at 7:38 am .

    Sort of slightly off topic but related to my last post; I was interested in Tony Gale’s comments (on Monday Sky) about how Grealish has the ability to hold the ball longer than other players, looking to make a telling pass – particularly in and around the penalty area – and that this makes him a special player.

    Watching Eden Hazard the other night, I noticed he has the same type of ability that Gale was talking about – I’m not trying to draw a direct comparison but there is no doubt that Grealish is an exceptional talent and I think it will be hard to keep him if we are in the Championship next season,

  4. Avatar
    Bill Pearson April 24, 2019 at 11:27 am .

    In my answer to you Badger on Dean Smith, it’s now obvious to most fans he was worth the gamble over Bruce you only have to look to see how his type of football has brought in thousands of fans back to Villa Park, the football alone is interesting to us all , 6000 fans boosting small clubs coffers and big clubs interested in our player, Dean Smith deserves every praise the footballing world can give him, he like many up and coming managers need the breaks in life because he’s had to start at the bottom. I take my hat off to him.

  5. Avatar
    DSVilla April 24, 2019 at 12:38 pm .

    Smith has done a very good job so far. I can’t even be bothered to write about Bruce.

    I agree with Hitch about Grealish. He is always available to receive the ball from defence too, and can hold it as long as he wants or draw a foul. That helps the defence out so they don’t need to lump it forwards. Top player and highly unlikely to stay if we don’t get promoted this season. I wouldn’t blame him either. It’s a short career and he shouldn’t waste it in the Championship.

  6. Avatar
    Holte66 April 24, 2019 at 3:47 pm .

    I was delighted when we brought in Smith. I felt sympathy for Bruce with how it all ended but it was the right time for a change. There’s no doubt the return of Grealish was a massive boost to the sequence of results that followed. Smith did something that Bruce failed to do and began to play players in their preferred positions. Not rocket science but his positive approach to games has proved important too. He doesn’t throw on a defender for a striker to cling onto a lead like Bruce did. Opposition teams know that they are going to be tested defensively whereas Bruce teams were set up not to lose first and foremost. Not exactly setting fear into our opponents! Ideally if we can remain unbeaten till playoffs then we will maintain huge confidence and belief that we will win the next game. Also it will put uncertainty and doubt in the minds of our play off opponents (assuming Baggies)
    Smith is stepping into the unknown in the next few weeks and someone like Terry will be important having been there already. Rest players? Play strongest team every time? These decisions will determine whether we get promoted or not. Fail and it’s a massive rebuild although I have faith based on his Brentford days that he is the right man to do that.

  7. Avatar
    Hitchens60 April 24, 2019 at 7:31 pm .

    As an aside I see that Steve Gibson’s rant about Villa, Derby and Wednesday has been kicked into touch by EFL clubs who are content to rely on the EFL accountants to regulate FFP matters – quite rightly so; whatever one thinks about FFP.

    The timing of Gibson’s outburst does smell of sour grapes as Middlesbrough fall from the playoffs. Maybe he should concentrate more on what’s happening at his own club?

  8. Avatar
    Big Fat Ron April 24, 2019 at 11:06 pm .

    The short answer to your question, Badger, is “yes”.

  9. Avatar
    Pat 57 April 25, 2019 at 1:49 pm .

    The Leeds game on Sunday. I thought that I’d be biting my nails and checking my blood pressure every ten minutes instead of which I’ll be watching with a smile on my face.

    I’d like us to keep the ball rolling and win but it really doesn’t matter that much, does it? I can actually see us getting three points there though whatever team Smith puts out. All the pressure is on Leeds and, after two losses, their confidence is going to be shredded.

    It will be a luxury to see Villa play without having to be paranoid over the result. Happy days.

    1. Avatar
      Hitchens60 April 25, 2019 at 2:38 pm .

      If Sheffield United win on Saturday it would mean that Leeds (barring a GD upset of miraculous proportions) will play on Sunday knowing they cannot get automatic promotion. I wonder how that will affect their mentality both in that game and having to face the playoffs again?

      Can we overtake the Baggies?

      Looking forward to our last two games but still making no predictions (I admit to having voted for a draw against Millwall – O ye of little faith 🙂

      Tuanzebe fit for Sunday and Chester now back training although Hause and Abraham still sidelined. Happy days.

      UTV COYL

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