Thank You, Deano. A Villa tenure to remember

As Dean Smith’s time as Aston Villa boss comes to an end, it’s a sad and disappointing way for him to bow out after what has been a pivotal chapter in the club’s history.

Appointed in October 2018, Villa were in a terrible place. Desperately scrambling for a way to get back to the Premier League after never-ending failures and mismanagement, things were bleak at the club and the fanbase was continuously frustrated.

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Smith changed much of that during his time in charge, not only leading us back to the Premier League at the first time of asking but to also keep us there the following season which included a dramatic last-day escape and a trip to Wembley for a Cup final along the way.

Last year that progression went on as we climbed up to 11th place and while our second-half of the season slump ensured that campaign ended with a feeling of disappointment, Villa were still moving in the right direction and we were starting to build a squad capable of competing at that level as things were done in the right way.

Then came arguably his biggest challenge to date. Moving at a rate that equalled the growing expectation and demand at the club from both the ownership and fans, as we set our objectives high and targeted European football.

Ultimately, it’s not just our current five-game losing streak that has led to the decision to part company with Smith, it’s our form in 2021 as a whole that has been worrying, albeit wins over Tottenham, Chelsea, Man Utd and others during that period showed that there was so much potential for more.

The players will no doubt have to accept a share of the blame and responsibility too as some of their performances haven’t been good enough. While they showed fight and determination for Smith in the last two games, the lack of quality was the biggest issue and proved to be ours, and his, downfall.

It has to be said that the fanbase was split too. While some backed him relentlessly despite the poor form and yes, sentiment perhaps played a big part in that too given he’s one of us, others were desperate to see a change weeks, even months, ago as question marks were constantly raised over Smith’s ability to take us to that next level.

It’s hoped that this won’t be a case of ‘be careful what you wish for’, and instead one that Smith has essentially laid the foundations for bigger and better things at the club. Having taken us out of the dark and brought back good times and a sense of attachment to the Villa colours that arguably were waning for many during our time out of the top flight, Dean Smith has written a hugely important chapter in the history of this football club and we should be grateful and appreciative of the job he did.

Thank you, Deano. UTV.