Dean Smith: Villa can't settle for 17th this season

Sam Brookes October 30, 2020
Dean Smith: Villa can't settle for 17th this season
Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith has called on his players to better their 17th-placed finish from last season.

The side avoided relegation on the final day of last season, thanks to a nail-biting 1-1 draw at West Ham.

Yet Smith insists that he wants more from the squad, and expects the team to finish higher up the table this time around.

Dean Smith sets target

Speaking ahead of this Sunday’s clash with Southampton, as detailed by Sky Sports, Smith said: “Nobody at the football club was happy finishing 17th. Our ambition is to improve on last season. We’ve had a good start but there’s a lot of realism around the football club and it’s small steps at a time.”

Villa started this season is sparkling form. The side won their first four games, which included a scarcely believable 7-2 victory over Liverpool.

Photo by Neville Williams/Aston Villa FC via Getty Images

Reality check

The side were given a reality check last Friday by Leeds, though. A second half hat-trick from Patrick Bamford saw the Yorkshire-based club run out deserved 3-0 winners.

Smith put the defeat down to a disappointing display after the interval. He is backing his players to respond in the right manner this weekend.

“We’ve had a poor 40 minutes this season so far and I’ll certainly take that after the first five games. I’ve got a good idea of how these players will react because I’ve been with them a long time now. I know their character,” he said.

Tough task ahead

Smith will be hoping to return to winning ways on Sunday lunchtime, but his team face a tricky challenge against the in-form Saints.

Ralph Hassenhuttl’s men are unbeaten in their last four league matches, keeping three clean sheets in the process. That run has seen them move into the top seven. A win over Villa would see them leapfrog their opponents in the table.

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Sam Brookes is an aspiring sports journalist with a background in football analysis. He has written for a number of online publications in recent years, and specialises in English and Italian football.