Should Aston Villa keep faith in Dean Smith?

Graham Ruthven by Graham Ruthven / 10 March 2020, 14:40

Time is running out for Aston Villa

Defeat to Leicester City on Monday night kept Dean Smith’s side firmly in the Premier League’s bottom three, and with just 10 fixtures left of the 2019/20 season the Villa Park outfit are facing an immediate return to the Championship. The outlook is increasingly bleak.

So should Aston Villa roll the dice by making a managerial change? 

As things stand, it’s difficult to envisage their form improving to the required extent to keep them in the Premier League, so should Smith be shown the door and replaced by another manager who can give them a better chance of avoiding the drop?

The case for a change

No Premier League team has claimed fewer points than Aston Villa over the last six games. 

What’s more, no other side in the division has conceded more goals this season.

If Villa can find someone to organise them more resolutely at the back, someone to tighten them up and stop the goals flowing in, they would stand a much better chance of prevailing in the fight against relegation. 

Sam Allardyce has been mentioned as a potential candidate to take over from Smith. While that might not enthuse many Villains who want their club to become a permanent fixture in the top-half of the Premier League, the former Crystal Palace and Everton boss has a track record of saving clubs from the drop. Avoiding a return to the second tier is all that matters right now.

Big Sam’s impact could be similar to that of Nigel Pearson’s at Watford, with the Hornets moving out of the relegation zone since his arrival at Vicarage Road, and even orchestrated a win over Liverpool. In contrast, Villa have won just two of their last 15 games. 

Smith deserves great credit for taking his boyhood club back to the Premier League, but the case is becoming irrefutable that he is only taking them back down.

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Should Aston Villa roll the dice and make a change?

The case against a change

Aston Villa’s problems are largely down to recruitment. 

Over £140 million-worth of signings were made over the last two transfer windows and yet they have very little to show for that investment. 

This was underlined in their heavy 4-0 defeat to Leicester City on Monday evening, with Pepe Reina a liability in goals following his signing in January. 

Recruitment is not something Smith is in control of at Aston Villa, with Jesus Garcia Pitarch hired as the club’s sporting director in October 2018. 

Smith is doing what he can with a lopsided squad, particularly in the final third where his team has lacked a proven and reliable goalscorer all season long. 
 

Of course, the case of Fulham can also be pointed to as an example of how rolling the dice at this stage of the season can only make matters worse in a fight against relegation. 

The Cottagers went through three different managers last season, with Claudio Ranieri sacked at the end of February as the club stared relegation in the face.

Scott Parker was hired as interim manager in a last ditch attempt to avoid a return to the Championship, but there was no real improvement in form and Fulham ended up finishing second bottom of the Premier League table. 

Aston Villa could suffer a similar fate if they decide to thrash around in making a managerial change this late in the day. 

This is the dilemma they now face.

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