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Old 04-26-2019, 03:14 PM   #7611 (permalink)
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I hope so, that would be cool
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Old 04-27-2019, 08:16 AM   #7612 (permalink)
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Dean Smith: Dad’s dementia means he does not know I’m Villa manager
The 48-year-old is on the verge of bringing the glory days back to a club that runs deep in his family, writes Henry Winter.

Two or three times a week, Dean Smith goes into the coaches’ dressing room at Bodymoor Heath, removes his Aston Villa top and shorts, slips into his civvies and drives off to see his father Ron. He sits with his dad, and thinks of the days when Ron would take him and his brother on to the Holte End, instilling in his sons a deep love for Villa.

Smith, 48, thinks of the times when his father told him that he couldn’t go to the 1982 European Cup final because of fears of crowd trouble in Rotterdam. The 11-year-old still managed to get on the open-top bus with Des Bremner, Gary Shaw, Peter Withe and the rest of the victorious players as they paraded through Birmingham. He thinks of his father’s passion for Villa, where he worked as a steward.

These visits are particularly poignant as he can’t take his father back down memory lane or share the joy of Villa’s current vibrant form, their run of ten league wins on the spin breaking a 109-year-old club record and propelling them into the Sky Bet Championship play-off positions.

“My dad has dementia,” Smith explains. “He’s been in a home the last three years. I went to see him yesterday. He doesn’t know who I am. Unfortunately, he doesn’t know I’m Villa manager.”

Smith sensed the fog seeping into his father’s mind when briefly staying at his parents’ Birmingham home while house-hunting in 2009. “I took him to the pub one night, we had a pint, and I asked him ‘do you want another one?’ ‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I’m just going to the toilet’.” When Smith returned from the bar, his father wasn’t there. He’d disappeared. “When he got home, I said, ‘Dad, you left me in the pub.’ That’s when I realised something’s not right. So I talked mum into getting him an appointment. It was the early signs of dementia

If the fog could, miraculously, lift momentarily, what would his father think seeing that his son was now Villa manager? “Dad would be amazed,” Smith smiles. “And very proud. My dad’s dad was a Villa fan. My dad was brought up in Aston, he was a toolmaker, worked in a factory all his life. He was a steward at Villa, loved the club.”

Sitting in his office at Bodymoor Heath, Villa’s training ground, Smith recalls travelling away with his father. “He failed his test and said, ‘I’m never driving again’ so mum drove. I remember her driving me, my brother and my cousins to watch Villa at Bristol City in a yellow Vauxhall Viva. Dad was the best passenger-driver I’ve ever seen, ‘No! You’ve gone the wrong way!’”

In 1982, Smith’s father headed off to Rotterdam for the European Cup final against Bayern Munich, which Villa won 1-0. “Dad wouldn’t let me go. There was trouble in the Anderlecht game [in the semi-final] so I watched the game at home.”

Pat Heard, the Villa full back who was on the bench in Rotterdam, lived opposite, so his children were brought over. “Myself and my brother used to baby-sit his kids, so we became very friendly with them. We all had the shirt on, the colours. Jimmy Rimmer coming off after nine minutes (injured). Oh my life. What’s going on? Nigel Spink coming on, pulling off save after save. An incredible time for the football club.

“When they had the open-bus parade through Birmingham, I was there with my mates, Pat saw me, and got me on the bus. I was 11. I was on the lower deck. Didn’t get upstairs!”

Villa’s players were allowed to take the trophy home for a day each. “Pat had the European Cup for a night,” Smith laughs. “He actually slept with the European Cup, him and his missus. He told us, ‘I daren’t leave it downstairs. I was scared to death to leave it downstairs.’ We all went over to his house. We had a local pub called the Red Admiral and he took it [the cup] in there. Unbelievable times.

“I actually got to know a few of the players. I even played with Gary Shaw and Des Bremner at Walsall [in 1990]. Unbelievable. I’d grown up watching them. I was not good enough to play for Villa.” Smith still enjoyed a good career outside the elite, 674 games as a reliable defender and frequent captain for Walsall, Hereford United, Leyton Orient, Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale.

Management always appealed, having long been into strategy. “I was an avid chess player, played for the school chess team, we became West Midlands school champions. Write the move down, put on the timer.” Smith rattles off his chess inspirations. “Garry Kasparov. (Anatoly) Karpov. Bobby Fischer. Boris Spassky.”

His coaching career began at Orient in 2005, first with the youth team then as assistant to Martin Ling. Smith understood the pressure on managers but never realised what Ling was enduring. “Martin was my best friend. I knew he was highly stressed with the job, but never knew he had serious depression. His wife didn’t know, his kids didn’t, he kept it hidden from all of us.

“It was a big shock to see with somebody as social and outgoing as he was. To this day, he believes it was down to alcohol. He regularly attends AA meetings and has been off the drink ever since. I try not to drink at home. I used to drink as a player more than I do now.”

Smith kept returning to Villa Park for matches. “Kevin MacDonald, who is [under] 23s coach here, were playing together at Walsall, and we stood in the Holte End together when we played Liverpool and Ronny Rosenthal missed the open goal [in 1992]. I’ve always gone along to Villa games whenever I could.” When out in North Carolina last May, visiting his son who is on a soccer scholarship there, Smith found a stream on his iPad to watch Villa’s play-off final defeat by Fulham.

When Steve Bruce was dismissed last October, news that Smith’s name was in the frame for the Villa job spread far and wide, even to his Villa-mad cousin in Philadelphia. “When he heard I’d been linked with the job, he said, ‘You’ve got to take it, it’s VILLA’.”

Smith had built his name as a good man-manager and respected operator on a shoestring by keeping Walsall in League One, and then keeping Brentford competitive in the Championship, but for some he represented a gamble by Villa. “I don’t think so. I felt I earned the seat. I’d managed 405 games. I was really enjoying Brentford. I loved working for Matthew [Benham, the owner], I still go out for a meal with him now. It was a tough decision but the right decision.”

He called a family confab, including his son on Facetime from the States. “I wanted it to be a family decision. They are all Villa fans. My daughter’s still at school locally and if we had a bad run of results, I didn’t want it to affect her. I was quite confident she would handle it. She is quite a mature young lady. The most important thing in my life is my family. I need to be a good husband and father.

“But I knew the pressure of it. It is more than a job. I understand the Villa fans. I am one of them. After the game if we’ve not played well, I will tell it as it is, but I don’t take football home. My phone’s on silent, I might have a look and ‘ok, deal with that tomorrow’.

“My wife copes very well. She’s quite an emotional character, so she can get high and low, but she can see when it does affect me. She handles the pressure really well, probably better than when our son left for America.”

He detaches himself from the emotion of match-day, only once permitting himself to stand in the dug-out thinking like a fan. “We were beating Birmingham at home, 4-2, last minutes all the crowd were singing, and I had a little look around and thought ‘this is incredible’.”

The buzz around Bodymoor Heath is inescapable. A smiling Jack Grealish stops for a chat, looking incredibly lean, the result of staying later after training, working out. John Terry, Smith’s assistant, strides up, clearly enjoying working under such an engaging, responsibility-sharing manager as Smith, and loving the momentum of a big club on the move.

“I don’t think there’s a better sight or sound than the Holte End in full voice,” Smith continues. “We’ve had six or seven sell-outs. the support’s been tremendous. I have a box at the game for ten and have to get an extra ten tickets such is the demand. It makes me proud. I love the fact when they tell me it’s sold out.

“People are coming up, shaking my hand, and saying thank you for giving us Villa back. I say, Villa has never gone. I have so much respect for Steve Bruce, he was one game from taking them back to the Premier League, and people should never forget that, or all the (financial) troubles that happened in the summer. The club could have gone under. I am hopeful with the new owners (Nassef Sawiris and Wes Edens) who are really keen and eager to take Villa back to where it was, that we can turn it around.

“Villa’s a special club. It’s a community club, a family club. I did a talk when we weren’t having our best time, and 500 fans turned up. I spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson about Villa. He said he nearly came here as a player as a 16-year-old. He said it’s a special club, because it was brought about by Scotsmen.” The statue of the Perthshire-born William McGregor, the club’s earliest driving force, stands proudly near the players’ entrance at Villa Park.

“It’s a tragedy it has not won the FA Cup since 1957 but to be one of the clubs who have won the European Cup is special,” Smith says. “The success has been too long ago. It has been a struggle economically (locally), and the football clubs have struggled along with it. There was a time when no Midlands teams were in the Premier League. Wolves have done brilliantly. Got the finances now, the backing, recruited really good players and a good coach [Nuno Espírito Santo] and got them there.

“This is a Premier League club playing in the Championship. There is a hunger about the players. They are coachable, whether 35-year-old Glenn Whelan or 34-year-old Mile Jedinak. They have all been open to new ideas.”

A particular masterstroke has been making Grealish captain. “I have a lot of leaders. I could have given anyone the armband. James Chester has had it, so have Alan Hutton and Glenn Whelan. I thought it would help Jack’s game. He has the respect of the dressing room. I knew he would embrace it, cherish it. Jack loves the football club.

“Not many clubs have fans as manager and captain. We do. At Sheffield United, Chris Wilder is a fan, and the captain [Billy Sharp] is a fan. It sends a message. People know what it means to us.”

In the race for automatic promotion, Wilder’s men have overtaken Marcelo Bielsa’s stuttering Leeds United, whom Villa face tomorrow, and could possibly take on in the play-off final at Wembley on May 27. “Marcelo Bielsa is quite unique to what we’ve seen before,” Smith says. “He’s a bit different in the way he plays, what he asks his players to do. He’s very demanding of his players. I don’t think an English coach could get that out of the players. (Bielsa saying) ‘You will go man for man, and run.’ It is gospel for them. ‘This is what I believe in, this is what you are going to do.’ It is going to be tough on Sunday.”

Smith’s team are up for the challenge. His father would be proud.
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Old 05-11-2019, 01:46 PM   #7613 (permalink)
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Great comeback today. We're halfway there to Wembley.

Very happy with the group of players we have, the manager and the mood surrounding Villa right now.

💜💙💜💙💜
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Old 05-11-2019, 01:57 PM   #7614 (permalink)
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Great comeback today. We're halfway there to Wembley.

Very happy with the group of players we have, the manager and the mood surrounding Villa right now.

💜💙💜💙💜
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Old 05-11-2019, 02:02 PM   #7615 (permalink)
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Old 05-20-2019, 09:04 AM   #7616 (permalink)
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wasn't around to complain about our form this season which is probably a good thing, disgusting.

how are you feeling about Villa though Fluff? will be a big game for both sides.
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Old 05-20-2019, 10:36 AM   #7617 (permalink)
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wasn't around to complain about our form this season which is probably a good thing, disgusting.

how are you feeling about Villa though Fluff? will be a big game for both sides.
Obviously didn't expect it but I'll take it.

I am optimistic and I don't think the team will fail to turn up in the final like last year.

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Old 05-23-2019, 01:49 PM   #7618 (permalink)
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https://mobile.twitter.com/RedMancCl...920367105?s=19

😂😂

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Old 05-23-2019, 03:00 PM   #7619 (permalink)
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i really liked him for how much he had improved over his time with the club prior to this year but he has to be the least self aware player in all of england. in an ideal world he shouldn't be anywhere near the first team either.
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Old 05-23-2019, 03:09 PM   #7620 (permalink)
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i really liked him for how much he had improved over his time with the club prior to this year but he has to be the least self aware player in all of england. in an ideal world he shouldn't be anywhere near the first team either.
I honestly thought the J Lingz thing was a piss take coined by some football banter fans online, seen him referred to as J Lingz. Didn't realise it was actually his 'brand'

You gonna be watching on Monday pal?
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