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Hangover from last season and Grealish loss – what went wrong for Dean Smith?

Dean Smith File Photos
(Image credit: Michael Regan)

Dean Smith was sacked by Aston Villa on Sunday after three years in charge.

Here, the PA news agency looks at why the club acted and what the factors behind the decision were.

Why now?

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They have lost their last five matches but Villa’s results have been in decline during 2021 and the club decided to act. Villa have lost 19 of 38 games in all competitions this calendar year so it was not a decision just based on the last month.

Is it fair?

Smith guided Villa back to the Premier League

Smith guided Villa back to the Premier League (John Walton/PA)

Smith helped return Villa to the Premier League after taking over when they were mid-table in the Championship. They were a broken club but he has revived them and arguably deserved more of a chance to turn their form around, especially after their summer spending. Smith still leaves with the goodwill of the fans intact, rare for a manager in these times.

How much did Jack Grealish’s transfer impact Smith’s chances?

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Grealish’s exit was always likely, despite Villa’s best efforts to keep their home-grown captain. He was integral to any success on the pitch, highlighted by his £100million release clause which Manchester City eventually triggered. He missed three months towards the end of last season with a shin injury and Villa won just three games without him.

Did Villa replace Grealish effectively?

Southampton v Aston Villa – Premier League – St Mary’s

Emi Buendia became Aston Villa’s record buy. (Adam Davy/PA)

Villa spent big on Emi Buendia, Leon Bailey and Danny Ings as Grealish’s replacements but Smith was unable to fully utilise them. They played just 35 minutes together thanks to injury and Covid quarantine issues, meaning Smith never had a full-strength side. Record £38million buy Buendia was forced to miss games after his controversial trip to Argentina for international duty in September while Bailey and Ings have both had injury issues.