Despite an exceptional performance against Liverpool, Dean Smith has called for tempered expectations moving forward.
Words: Regan Foy | @findfoy
Following Aston Villa’s exceptional demolition of the reigning Premier League and World Champions last night at Villa Park, which saw Dean Smith’s side shock the footballing world with a 7-2 win, the manager has called for his players to remain humble and progress with tempered expectations – and that fans expectations should be tempered too.
As Ollie Watkins scored his first Premier League goal and complimented it with two more to complete an impressive, perfect hat-trick and Jack Grealish contributed to five of the night’s goals, the fanbase was rightly jubilant as their side showed significant progression from last season. Other goals from debutant Ross Barkley and John McGinn ensured points were far out of the reach of Jurgen Klopp’s side.
Post-game, Klopp was quick to encourage Smith for his side’s performance, adulating over how the Villan’s had dismantled their high-line that has seen them catch forwards offside more than any other club in the Premier League over the last year or so. Work on the training ground and with video allowed the home side to provide what is likely to be the ‘shock’ result of the season.
Klopp showcased his humility, and uttered the word “wow” when congratulating Dean Smith as the final whistle was blown – with the German coach evidently impressed with what he had just seen.
The Liverpool boss has perfected and coined ‘Gegenpress’ football, but described his side’s performance as ‘under-average’ and commented on the poor blocking techniques utilised by his defenders that caused a high number of deflected goals to nestle in the net behind the deputising Adrian.
Dean is keen to ensure that his squad keep a lid on their expectations moving forward, and has made the players aware that results like last night’s don’t come very often.
“You only have to look at Leicester’s win at Manchester City and then see that they get beat 3-0 against West Ham in their next game.
“That’s how tough this Premier League is,” the Aston Villa manager admitted.
“We won’t get complacent – the players will know how hard they have had to work to get a performance and a result like that.
“I did say to them that things like this don’t happen every day, so you do have to make the most of it as well, so we’ll certainly enjoy the moment but be humble enough to know we were playing against an exceptional team today.”
It is not the first jubilant dressing room that Dean Smith will have been in since his arrival at Aston Villa – with celebrations coming twice-a-year it seems. There was the exceptional scenes following the club’s win against West Bromwich Albion in the Play-Off Semi-Final, and of course those that followed when they achieved their dream of a Premier League return, paired with the celebrations of reaching the Carabao Cup Final and the last-day survival of last season.
Dean admitted that nobody expected what happened, to happen, and that there was a lot of happy faces when he walked into the dressing room once he had stood and respected each of Liverpool’s players performances, as he often does at the end of every game despite the end result – a sure sign of how humble the Aston Villa manager really is.
“The players will certainly take a moment to realise what they have done against an unbelievable team.
“They know they’re a good team, and I’ve felt that we’re in a better position now. We have better quality, better athletes as well.
“If you’ve got that, you’ve got chances of getting results like we did.”
Klopp described Aston Villa as ‘quicker in mind’ during last night’s game, but also admitted that despite the excellent showing of Dean Smith’s side, his Liverpool side did not help their own situation.
The Villans showed that every move in football provides a consequence – positive or negative is subjective based upon the team you support – and Liverpool’s ruthless need to attack and press proved to be their undoing against a side that many had predicted they would just brush aside.
Aston Villa now move into the international break unbeaten in the Premier League, sitting in second with a game in hand. Ten players will leave for senior international duties, including Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings who will be representing England, further showcasing the talent in the squad, and Dean Smith has jokingly told his players to look after themselves whilst they’re away.
The reluctance to get carried away with a huge result is key for the club, and whilst it’s a game that will be considered as one to define the manager’s tenure with, there is certainly no easy game in the league and that is showcased by Aston Villa’s return to Premier League action on October 17th, where they face the dually exceptional and turbulent Leicester City side that Dean Smith was so quick to mention after his side’s demolition of Liverpool.