Well, against pretty much all the odds, we’ve done it.
We’ve stayed in the Premier league and I was of course ecstatic.
We didn’t look like had the slightest chance of surviving just a couple of weeks back and massive credit has to be given to Dean Smith and the players. Smith because he always believed when most of us fans faltered and the players because it must have been a real tough mental challenge in not letting their belief drop.
There’s no denying that overall, we looked a much better side once Project restart kicked in and that suggests some really high amount of hard work went on during the lockdown.
It seems that is indeed what’s happened and apparently the fact that Smith worked so hard has been enough for the owners to say that the manager’s position is safe. Reading further into such stories suggests that Smith would probably have been safe even if we were relegated.
Which is why I’m adding a poll. I’m interested to see if the Smith approval rating has gone up, or if there’s still a fair sized minority who still want him gone, in the belief that he won’t take us any further.
So while I was elated to see us retain our Premier league status, so I immediately found I was asking myself lots of questions.
The first was indeed “should we keep Smith?”
And it’s still a very important question for me.
First off, I like Smith. I believe he wants to play footy in the proper way. And he’s a Villa fan.
But that doesn’t mean I have a particular soft spot for him.
So I have to try and think logically and look at what’s best for the club.
I can fully understand those who won’t have any truck with Smith. Certainly, his tactics have looked incredibly poor at times during the season. It’s an area where some fans felt Smith was beyond redemption and it was something he’d never sort out.
Yet, we’ve looked a lot better organised at the back and much more resilient recently.
Has that improvement been enough? Or was it too little, too late?
Me, I think that it’s probably just about enough and the fact that we live to fight another season means he gets at least a few months next season.
It would be harsh to sack a manager who got us promoted in his first season and retained our Prem status in his second, just yet, in my opinion.
Yet while he’s “safe” we all know there’s no such thing for a football manager.
Safe for now, would be more accurate.
While I was dancing up and down and shouting my head off at the final whistle, I also watched the Villa players and staff celebrating like mad.
And it was enough to see Roy Keane commenting that he was disappointed about that, with his point being that we’d achieved nothing and won’t do either, if that’s our mentality.
Carlton Palmer has come out and said that we’re quite right to celebrate as much as we want and it’s a view I have a lot of sympathy for.
But my view is more in the middle.
Look, I know we don’t have any divine right to be in the Prem, but we know where our true position is and how we’re perceived by other club’s fans.
And it isn’t at the bottom of the league.
So while, yes, the players and Staff are entitled to some celebration, our surviving should very much be seen as only this season’s minimum requirement and a mere stepping stone.
So with the manager safe, for now, at least, where does this leave other areas?
Suso is obviously the first point to address.
And the question for me is that if we had been relegated, surely it would have been 100% confirmation that our recruitment wasn’t good enough. As fans, it’s a point that’s been repeatedly made for months even before we were relegated?
But we haven’t been relegated.
Does that mean then that if we’ve stayed up, it’s proof that our recruitment was good enough and Suso’s position is also safe?
That would be the logical assumption, but it’ll be interesting to see what happens there.
And then there’s the big question of how much we’ll fight to retain players.
Is Grealish already packing his bags ready for that house near Manchester that he was supposedly eyeing up?
Would we let Mings go for the right money? Or McGinn, for that matter?
This is obviously one for the owners to answer.
I’ve no doubt there will be investment, but it’s not just as simple as throwing money at it, is it?
Not with FFP anyway and it might be a case of even if the owners can put quite a bit in, the fighting fund might have to be assisted by some unwanted sales.
Certain players will be on their way, but I don’t see it being too many. We need to increase the size of the squad, as was oft proven this season.
And that is probably only the start of the questions.
This post is becoming overly long though, so I’ll cut it short.
The poll is merely Dean Smith. Sack him or not?