Dean Smith interview: Aston Villa manager on his journey to the job
In this interview with Sky Sports before Monday Night Football, Aston Villa boss Dean Smith talks through the exceptional experiences that have shaped his career as well as the ambitions he has for the club he has supported since he was a boy.
His is the heart-warming story of a fan from Great Barr whose father worked as a steward at the old Trinity Road Stand, however there was more than opinion at heart when Aston Villa turned to Dean Smith. This can be a coach with new thoughts and worth that are old-school. He has restored Villa into the top flight. Now he plans to maintain them .
The points return hasn't been exactly what Smith might have enjoyed in the first four matches. Two early targets scuppered Villa against Bournemouth although everton were beaten and that there was controversy in Crystal Palace. The match that annoyed the director was the defeat at Tottenham. He was frustrated with the absence of intent at the final 25 minutes.
"We're 1-0 up but we had been really heavy," Smith tells Sky Sports. "Subsequently we were 1-1 and we're still deep. I know why but I simply feel you will want an ball. A great deal of our substitutions if we are top have been assaulting substitutions not defensive ones and that's because I really don't wish to invite groups onto us. I would rather us get another objective.
"I think there is such a big difference between trying to not shed and seeking to win. Should you do your best not to lose and wind up protecting prior to conceding at the minute you walk off the pitch believing that you may have had a go. I know this football team and I understand these supporters. The expectation is that we attempt to win each game and we'll attempt to."
He has no intention of ignoring his instincts and why should he? This is the attitude that has characterised Smith career, the kind of mindset that made him an admired figure. The surprise is that his movement into direction might never have occurred.
Is a sense of fate to it all now. The boy who cleaned the chairs at Villa Park, the child who got on the open-top bus that paraded the European Cup around Birmingham, the young guy who awakens to do shift work in a powder-paint company in Aston, moving on to lead the club what he calls one of the best times of his life once winning the play-off closing.
But Smith did not even need the Walsall task. He was scarred by his own expertise as supervisor to Martin Ling at Leyton Orient as soon as the pair were after four decades despite winning promotion and never being at the base. "I was a bit stung by this," he admits. "I thought I'd done my job fairly nicely."
Head of childhood in Walsall's role was appealing. "There was more
job security inside," he adds. "I had a young family at the time and didn't need to place myself into that situation again. I had been really enjoying my work working with players and bringing them through. I felt happy in the world that I was in.
"However, I just got into it. My first game ended up pulling at 3-3 and we were 3-1 down away to Tranmere to go. That rush was there. We had a lovely four weeks. We ended up staying up about the day of this year and had been nine points adrift at the bottom of the league. This was when I believed it was the street that I wanted to return."
His succeeding stay at Brentford watched him grow into a different type of coach, if Walsall was the making of Smith as a supervisor. The values remained the same. "They had been instilled in me as a kid by my parents," he clarifies. "But you certainly adapt as a individual, a boss and a leader since you proceed through encounters that form you."
Brentford was, also by Smith's own admission, exceptional. This is a club which now has a professional coach. There were profiling of players and staff and coaches. There was an app for those players that allowed the club to monitor their sleeping patterns. The analytics space was renamed the zone.
The owner of the club, matthew Benham, comes out of a betting history and encourages this more analytic approach to the match. Smitha keen chess player, took many of the ideas on board. It is no coincidence his press conference about the Friday before the West Ham game watched him mention Villa complete to support his argument.
"It is a exceptional club but it is a fantastic club," says Smith. "They gave me some terrific suggestions regarding how to move forward with your soccer. It is a method of thinking that's been ingrained in me now in terms of the way to think about the game. I was really impressed with how some of the versions functioned and how they could be used by us as a football club.
"Performance is normally best based on the number of big chances you created compared to how many the resistance had. That gives you a great guide since in case you break the entire thing down, if you play with the game 100 days and you've got that many more big opportunities compared to opposition then more often than not you're most likely to win as opposed to lose."
And pasting it the learning zone? "Everyone has an analysis room," laughs Smith. "I just feel we are here in order to help the gamers become better players and better people. So every day is all about learning. As soon as we go in the room with the analysts now is the time to learn. The playersbought into it quite quickly."
Speed is of the nature at Villa also. Following a series of form at the spring, there was some surprise that the team chose to overhaul matters as far as they did in preparation. The result is that they have a squad with a much higher ceiling of what they can attain in terms - but it will take some time for them.
Asked whether this team is enjoying with his football right now and Smith remains blunt. "Not at the moment," he states. "Last season, you consider that run we went on. Ten wins the spin all the way. That is the football I want to see and I feel this team is capable of. We need to touch it on a constant basis, although it has been touched by us at times.
"There's been a large reset because going out of a Championship team to a Premier League group there were 15 players which were changing. It requires time to have this evolution. We have brought but that's the essential word. This team has potential and it will start living up to this in the upcoming few months."
Smith's assurance comes from the simple fact that he has done it. "I like to grow nightclubs," he states. But perhaps more than anybody, he, recognises too that Aston Villa is a very different creature. Things can never be quite the same for the seven-time winners of England while Norwich and Sheffield United develop with expectations of their own.
"Sometimes it seems like we were the group that won the team with 10 points last year instead of being the person who came and ended up moving through the play-offs," adds Smith. "But that's who we are. The reality is that we have got in to this league than we all thought we would.
"Having said this, when I got the job and that I watched the players we'd available I did think we'd get encouraged and we all did. The thing that is main is that I believe we've gained the supporters' confidence again. There is that link between supporters, staff and the players. We all want Aston Villa to turn into a recognized Premier League team once again"
That'll take some time but there is a sense that Smith will get it done. For the first time in what seems like a long period, Aston Villa are in a good spot again - and not simply as they're again in the Premier League. Together with Smith having given the armband, They've a buff as their captain and a fan as their boss. He will continue to get things his way.
"I can not be Sir Alex Ferguson, Jose Mourinho, Jurgen Klopp or Pep Guardiola since I am not them. I'm Dean Smith therefore I will be true to how I am"
One sense which is going to be enough.
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