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Aston Villa part ways with Dean Smith, and it’s the end of a unique era at Villa Park

After three years at the helm, the Dean Smith era at Aston Villa ends with promotion, survival, and stalled progress. Taking all of that into consideration, it’s a sad time for the football club.

Southampton FC v Aston Villa - Premier League Photo by Alex Broadway/Getty Images

The owners have made the call. After rumors, reports, guesses, and feelings, Dean Smith is out as Aston Villa Manager.

And so it ends.

He joined the club he has supported all his life in midtable in the Championship. He led the team on a massive winning streak, ending in promotion. He spent the Covid lockdown re-tooling his defense over Zoom, leading to a miraculous survival effort on the final day of the 2019/2020 season.

Then progress came.

Villa started the season on fire, with the combination of Jack Grealish and Ross Barkley leading the attack. In the end, the 2020/2021 fizzled out a bit, but not many supporters were disappointed overall with the growth in the team.

The start to 2021/2022 season has been uneven to say the least. Gone is captain Jack Grealish and the main attacking outlet. Two preseason matches cancelled due to covid. Dozens of injuries and covid-related issues to players. The three big signings of Danny Ings, Emi Buendia, and Leon Bailey only played together for Dean Smith for 35 minutes. Bad bounces, bad luck, bad performances, and bad decisions all contributed to Villa’s struggles all season and the five match losing streak that lead to the end of Dean Smith at the football club.

This is “a thing can be two things” situation for me. I’m sad and mad that Dean Smith wasn’t given more time at a club he clearly loves amid the injury situation and some of the bad bounces. I wanted to see Dean Smith lead his and my club to success. He has progressed each of his years at the helm and I thought he desevered the chance to try to do that. My emotional connection to the man is evident and I fully realize its impact. He is my favorite manager I’ve seen at Villa and he brought life back to the club that I love and I enjoyed being on his roller coaster.

The decision is also 100% understandable. The owners have been completely clear that the expectations are success now, while building the club for a successful future. Smith has gotten transfer and financial backing. The drop near the end of last year when Grealish went out showed a lack of a plan B or C. That continued for the opening third of the season this year (with the given caveats above coming into effect as injuries and covid issues arose). Five losses in a row is miserable. And it isn’t like they were well played loses. If the season is going to be saved and change during an international break, it makes sense.

The outstanding question is who is next on the sidelines. I have faith in the owners but man, I will miss seeing Dean Smith there. I hope he gets whatever job he wants and is widely successful. There are reports Craig Shakespeare is also gone, which means a replacement is, hopefully, close.

For now I’m going to go find the video of him singing “Don’t Look Back In Anger” after the promotion victory.

Thank you, Dean Smith.