Dean Smith Aston Villa
Aston Villa could see a mass exodus in the dressing room over the next year, with the veterans the most likely to leave.
Words by Mark Jirobe (@VillaMarkPGH)

Aston Villa supporters got the man they’ve been shouting for with the appointment of a new manager. 

Dean Smith will take the reigns for the Claret & Blue moving forward and there have been few to zero rational supporters that have a gripe with it. 

The book on Smith is that he likes to play a somewhat attractive and attacking football with an onus on zonal defending before traditional man-marking. Zonal defending means that whoever Smith wants to bring in at Villa will have be physically and naturally fit enough to get up and down the pitch with regularity and urgency. 

Smith said of Brentford in 2016: “Our philosophy is to plan an attacking brand of football. It’s been seen with 72 goals. Joint leading scorers in the Championship last season. We want to entertain supporters. You have to be able to adapt to teams that you’re playing against. Some teams come and bank here and some are quite expansive so you have to play different ways against different teams at times, but always with an attacking mindset.” 

If Smith can bring that attitude to Aston Villa and instil that into his new players, combined with the new resources he has at his disposal, Villa supporters will be shouting from the rooftops in due course. Attacking football was a million miles away most of the time under Steve Bruce and supporters were very vocal about it. 

If you look at the current crop of players at Aston Villa there is definitely claims for favouritism while the club was being led by Steve Bruce. Ahmed Elmohamady seemed to be played in and out over Bruce’s time at Aston Villa, much to the displeasure of a good number of supporters. It wasn’t that Elmo didn’t work hard. It wasn’t that he didn’t have the uncommon decent cross coming off of the right side of the pitch. It wasn’t that he didn’t look responsible on a tactical standpoint. 

He just looked too old. 

The pace just wasn’t there anymore and it was blatantly, and at times, embarrassingly obvious. This could also be said for the likes of such players as Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan. 

While at Brentford, Dean Smith was known to give youth a chance and the trust to go out and perform to the best of their abilities in a system that would reward players that have individual flair. 

This season at Brentford, Smith didn’t employ a team that had an average age of more than 25.7 years of age. Steve Bruce seemed to only give youth a chance during Cup competitions and that fact was outlined by the 1-0 loss to Burton Albion in late August. This would wind up being the youngest average of players that Bruce would employ in the current season at 25.9 years of age. (Statistics via

There is not a doubt in the air that with age comes natural experience when it comes to football. But, the current state of Aston Villa mixed with some of the youth prospects brings up a very interesting point of discussion. 

Aston Villa have had additions of new owners, a new sporting director, a new managerial team with Dean Smith & John Terry, a new and experienced Chief Executive Officer. “Playing The Kids” is a mentality that most Aston Villa supporters have said on occasion, but never really truly meant it. With such youth prospects as Callum O’Hare, Jake Doyle-Hayes, Jacob Bedeau, James Bree and Mitch Clark…how could any of these players come to leave Villa because they were not afforded playing time? The historic CV on Dean Smith is that he loves these types of players. He wants hungry, driven, motivated and sound young footballers. He expects and demands that out of his players and you can see it during his time at Brentford. 

Again, a 100% far cry from the Steve Bruce era at Aston Villa. 

There may well be a ‘mass exodus’ of sorts coming for Aston Villa. It may not happen in the January transfer window, but it will happen none the less. Be it by contract expiry or transfers away from Villa, you can almost feel a squad shake-up is on the cards. The current back-room and executive set-up would be naive to not try to bring some of the aforementioned young players into the fold. 

Villa have tried to buy their way out of the Championship. It failed under Steve Bruce.

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