The knives are out…

As a Villa fan for 37 years, I, for perhaps the first time, don’t want to see an underperforming Manager go. I’ve always been excited about a new broom sweeping up through Bodymoor Heath, ringing the changes in anticipation of an upturn of fortunes.

The media is full of stories regarding Dean Smith’s precarious position as Aston Villa Manager. For some fans, journalists and pundits, it’s to be expected with four defeats in a row; the alarm bells will naturally be ringing. The bookies have him odds on as the next to go. There are names in the frame, from Steven Gerrard to Paulo Fonseca. For me, though, I can’t see the benefit of change right now.

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In Smith’s defence, he has been incredibly unlucky. The covid hit pre-season shambles, the change of backroom staff weeks and in one case just days before the season kicked off, doesn’t make it easy. It is however the inability for Smith to be able field his strongest 11 that’s put him in this position, I’ve never known a season like it regarding injuries.

There is now a big part of the squad who will be going away on International duty. Yet another potential disruption, risking injury, jet lag and the inability to work on anything meaningful on the training pitch. Yet another headache for the Manager.

On the other hand, we are where we are. There is no getting away from that. Formations and odd substitutions are regularly on the agenda of the many post-match podcasts and match reports. It’s always easy to point fingers after the event, BUT we, the fans, are not dummies. How does Danny Ings fit in? Why have we not acquired an imposing CDM? The questions loads of fans were asking before a ball was kicked, and 10 games in – we still are. Smith has to portion some of the blame for sure.

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The worry for me is the mood of the camp. Players arguing, throwing water bottles and appearing to storm off when substituted will not help the media make out that Smith has “lost the dressing room.” It’s pure personal frustration; that’s all it is.

So how he fixes this? It’s hard to say. If you change a Manager, it often means a complete change of backroom staff, and although currently it just doesn’t seem to be working, I fear it could be a decision that may easily backfire. Stability has not exactly been synonymous with AVFC in recent years, and if you look back, our most successful era’s have been when the management and backroom staff have been given time.

At the time of writing, there are just three days until the Southampton game. After that, yet another International break, we have Palace and Brighton. On paper three games that Aston Villa should be able to pick up points. If we don’t, the mood will become toxic (even more than it is now on social media). I just pray for no more veg throwing antics. He doesn’t deserve that.

Nick – UTV.


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