Dean Smith interview: Aston Villa manager on his journey to the job
Aston Villa boss Dean Smith talks us through the unique experiences which have shaped his career and the ambitions that he has to the club he has supported since he was a boy.
His is the heart-warming story of a boyhood enthusiast from Great Barr whose dad worked as a steward at the Trinity Road Stand, but there was more than opinion in mind when Aston Villa turned to Dean Smith. This can be a trainer with new ideas and values. He has restored Villa . Now he plans to maintain them .
The points return hasn't been what Smith would have liked in the first four matches. Two early targets scuppered Villa from Bournemouth although everton were beaten and also there was controversy in Crystal Palace. The match that annoyed the manager was the defeat at Tottenham. He had been frustrated by the dearth of intent at the final 25 minutes.
"We were 1-0 up but we were really deep," Smith informs Sky Sports. "Subsequently we were 1-1 and we were deep. I understand but I feel you want an ball. A good deal of our substitutions when we are top have been assaulting substitutions not defensive types because I really don't wish to invite teams onto 29, and that is. I would rather us reach the next objective.
"I think there is such a difference between trying to not shed and trying to win. If you make an effort to not lose and wind up protecting for 90 minutes before conceding in the previous minute you walk off the pitch thinking that you may as well have had a go. I am aware this football club and I know those fans. The expectation is that we try to win every game and we will attempt to."
He has no intention of dismissing his own instincts and why should he? Here is the attitude that has characterised Smith career, the sort of mindset that made him an admired figure after his work at Walsall and Brentford. The only real surprise is that his movement into management might not have happened in any way.
Is a sense of fate to it. The boy who cleaned the chairs at Villa Park, the kid who got on the open-top bus that amuses the European Cup about Birmingham, the young man who awakens to do shift work at a powder-paint business in Aston, moving on to direct the club on what he calls among the best days of his life whenever winning the play-off final.
However, Smith didn't even want the Walsall project at first. He was scarred by his experience as supervisor to Martin Ling at Leyton Orient whenever the pair were after four decades and never being in the base. "I was a little stung by that," he admits. "I thought I'd done my job fairly nicely."
Mind of childhood at Walsall's role was appealing. "There was job security in it," he adds.
"I had a young family in the time and didn't want to place myself in that situation . I had been really loving my work bringing all through them and working with players from seven to 18. I felt really happy that I was in.
"However, I only got into it. My very first match ended up drawing at 3-3 and we were 3-1 away to Tranmere using four minutes to go. That rush was there. We had a miraculous four months. We ended up remaining about the season's last day and were nine points adrift. That was when I felt it was the road I wished to return."
If Walsall was the making of Smith as a supervisor, his succeeding stay at Brentford saw him evolve into a different kind of coach. The values stayed the same. "They were instilled in me as a child by my own parents," he clarifies. "But you certainly adapt as a person, a boss and a leader because you go through encounters that shape you."
Brentford was, also by Smith's own entrance, exceptional. This is a club which has a professional coach. During Smith's period, there have been ball-striking coaches and mental profiling of staff and players. There was an app for those players who allowed the team to monitor their sleep patterns. The analytics room has been renamed the learning zone.
The club's owner, matthew Benham, encourages this more analytical approach to the sport and comes from a history. A chess player smith, took a number of the thoughts that were new . It is no coincidence that his press conference on the Friday before the West Ham game watched him reference Villa complete to confirm his argument.
"It's a special club but it's a great club," says Smith. "They gave me some wonderful ideas regarding the way to move forward with your football. It is a way of thinking that has been ingrained in me. I was impressed by how they could be used by us as a soccer club and some of the versions functioned.
"Performance is usually best based on the number of big chances you generated compared to the amount of the resistance had. That gives you a fantastic guide since in the event that you break the whole thing down, should you play the game 100 days and you have that many more enormous opportunities than the opposition then more often than not you're most likely to win rather than lose."
And pasting it the instruction zone? "Everyone has an investigation room," laughs Smith. "I just feel we are here to assist the gamers become better players and better people. Thus every day is all about learning. As soon as we go into the room with all the analysts it's time. The players bought into it quite quickly."
Speed is of the essence at Villa too. Following a spectacular run of form at thespring, there was a surprise that the club decided to overhaul matters just as much as they did for its Premier League effort in preparation. The end result is that they have a squad with a ceiling in terms of what they are able to achieve - but it is going to take some time for them.
Asked whether this team is currently playing with his football at this time and Smith remains blunt. "Not at the moment," he states. "Last year, you look at the run we went on. Ten wins the spin all the way into the play-off final. That is the soccer I wish to see and I feel this team is capable of. We need to touch it longer, although it has touched sometimes.
"There's been a big reset because going from a Championship team into a Premier League team there were 15 players that were changing. It takes time, to have that development. That is the word, although We've brought in a few players that have got possible. This group has potential and it'll begin living up to this in the upcoming few months."
Smith's confidence comes from the simple fact he has achieved it earlier. "I like to grow clubs," he says. But more than anybody, he, recognises also that Aston Villa is a different animal. Even though Sheffield and Norwich United develop with expectations of their very own, items can never be the same for its champions of England.
"Sometimes it feels as though we were the team that won the league with 10 points last year rather than being the one who came and ended up moving up through the play-offs," adds Smith. "But that's that we are. The reality is that we have likely got right in to this league a year earlier than we thought we would.
"Having said that, when I got the job and that I found the players we had available I'd believe we'd get promoted and also we all did. The issue is that I feel we've gained their supporters' confidence . There is that connection between team the players and supporters. Most of us need Aston Villa to turn into an established Premier League team once again"
That'll take time but a feeling is which it will be got by Smith. For the very first time in what feels like a very long time, Aston Villa are in a good location again - and not merely because they're back in the Premier League. They've a buff as their supervisor and a buff as their captain, with Smith having awarded the armband into Jack Grealish. He'll continue to get things his way.
"I can not be Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola because I'm not them. I'm Dean Smith therefore I will be true to the way that I am."
One sense that is going to be sufficient.
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