Just after Harvey Barnes netted Leicester’s third of the game at the King Power Stadium on Monday night, the camera panned to Aston Villa’s Tyrone Mings and could pick up the defender repeatedly mouthing the words ‘how’. For Villa, it had once again been a night to forget as they went down 4-0 losers to Brendan Rodgers’ rampant Foxes, but as for why and how it had played out the way it did, well, that’s actually not that hard to piece together, Tyrone.
Dean Smith’s appointment in October 2018 was certainly not the start of Villa’s problems given that the 48-year-old led the club out of the Championship after three years of being stuck in England’s second tier. Of course, that result would have sent shockwaves through the football community given how far off the pace Villa were at one stage, but it was that achievement that masked a lot of the manager’s limitations.
There is a reason why clubs that go up via the playoffs come straight back down again given that they are not necessarily the most deserving team to go up, but rather the ones with the most momentum.
Dean Smith has arrived for his post-match press conference…
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) March 9, 2020
Villa came storming through the pack to gatecrash the playoffs and ultimately win them after recording ten-straight victories in the league. No mean feat indeed but when you consider that Smith’s men finished seven points behind Leeds, who did not go up, you got the feeling that Villa’s johnny-come-lately style would not fly in the Premier League. And here we are now, with nine games to go and Aston Villa being tipped to go down by many of the best bookmakers in the UK, which offer free bets and bonuses for bettors to take such chances.
The writing was on the wall long before only nine games were left of the season. It was in late November, with Villa sitting only four points above the relegation places in 15th position, that the board decided to offer Smith a new four-year contract. This effectively tied their hands for the rest of the season as they placed all their hope of survival in the hands of a man who had pretty much pulled off a smash and grab to gain promotion. It was certainly an impressive smash and grab, but there was very little substance to Smith’s coaching at this time.
If you need further proof then just have a look at Villa’s defensive record in the Premier League this season; it is currently the worst in the entire division after conceding 56 goals and having spent £130m in the transfer market. You may also ask how this is the case given that John Terry is the assistant manager, one of England’s greatest-ever defenders. Whatever way you look at it, nothing seems to be working on the training ground that they can effectively replicate on matchday.
18 – No Premier League side has conceded more goals via set pieces (inc. penalties) this season than Aston Villa (18), while no side has shipped more goals via corners than the Villans (9). Vulnerable. pic.twitter.com/jSMywEworU
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) March 9, 2020
When you think about it, it seems bizarre that Smith and Terry haven’t been able to dovetail effectively whilst solving their defensive woes, and you have to look back on how insistent the Villa hierarchy were that Smith take the ex-Chelsea captain as his assistant. That too hasn’t worked, and the end now seems nigh.
Indeed, the owners of Aston Villa have made their beds and will now have to lie in them with Dean Smith and John Terry as their ship begins to list and ultimately sink.
Click here to comment on this articleor
Give us feedback on your Football Transfer Tavern experience