It’s very fair to say that Dean Smith has done nothing if not impress so far at Aston Villa. We’re little over a month into his reign as Head Coach at the Villa, and even in the losses - of which there have been two - there seems to be something positive to take. Previously, under Steve Bruce, it seemed that a wave of destruction would follow a poor result - with little in the way of optimism. Funnily enough, that last word is the word I’d use to describe Smith’s time at Villa, if I was asked to describe it with one word!
Optimism. We all seem to be full of it, or getting there right about now.
How did we get here? Was it through the wins? Three in five? Well - they’ve helped, no doubt. Is it through the controlled style of play? Maybe. This has all helped.
My reason for optimism with all things Villa (well, nearly all things Villa) is that the club on a footballing level now seem to be doing the basics so very well. Everything seems so stripped-back on the pitch. It almost seems natural, as though the players are afforded no instructions whatsoever. On the contrary, it’s all heavily controlled, almost to a t, by Smith and his crew.
It’s the way Dean speaks about results. It’s not just the black and white, win or loss. It’s about the moments. It’s the terminology, the analysis, the thought. It’s also about the big picture. Yes, we won - but boy, those chances we gave up to Derby showed our vulnerabilities.
It’s the way he looks ahead - not to the big game on the weekend, but the one after, and the one after that. For so long, by so many, we’ve been locked into the binary. Yes or no. Good or bad. Now, seemingly due to Smith, we’re more natural in our thought process. What went wrong? What went right? Nothing is pushed to the extremity as it was before.
It just seems so right.
And the football? It’s not game-changing. Aston Villa are not re-inventing the wheel, or running before walking. They are just playing as they should. That’s it. There’s very little more to it than that. Villa are controlling games, and playing on the front foot. They are playing big football that is also simple - to the naked eye. This isn’t exclusionary, and you don’t need a degree to understand what is happening here. Smith visited a talk about the all-dominating All Blacks over the international break, he broke bread with Alan Pardew and Sam Allardyce to talk football. He ensures his players are eating correctly. He ensures everyone is on the same page. He eats with his players. Right now, there doesn’t need to be much more than that.
If the team are this good while nailing the basics, whatever will the future hold? The sky is surely the limit for Smith’s Villa side - and that’s simply because