'Will bring belief and optimism' - The Villa view on Smith's Canaries arrival

Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (left) and manager Dean Smith (right) celebrate with the trophy after wi

Dean Smith and captain Jack Grealish celebrate Aston Villa's play-off victory over Derby at Wembley in 2019 - Credit: PA

Following the appointment of Dean Smith as Norwich City’s new head coach, we discovered the Aston Villa perspective on Smith’s swift Premier League return. 

Damian Dugdale has been writing on TheVillaBlog.co.uk since 2004 and gave us his views after the arrival of the former Villans boss at Carrow Road.

- You can watch the conversation in full below or read some of the key subjects covered below 

What was your reaction to Villa deciding to sack Smith? 

I’m still shocked at the sacking. We hired him to do a job, his win rate from Brentford to his win rate at Villa are essentially identical, he was doing exactly what we hired him to do. 

He took us up to the Premier League and I don’t think that he was given enough time this season. He could have had at least November and December. There will be a lot of people that disagree with that but it’s not often you get a chance to have someone like Dean Smith managing your team. 

We’ve thrown that away and ‘gutted’ is still the word for how I feel about Smith going – although very excited about Steven Gerrard. 

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His reign ended with five consecutive defeats, what were the main issues? 

The start of the season was good for us. The last couple of months there has been some injuries and there’s been a number of new players that need time. You can’t expect players to come in and hit the ground running after five or six games. 

They need three, four, five or six months, sometimes a player needs a season, we’ve seen it too many times to dismiss the manager after five defeats. 

It’s a tough run which I was convinced that we would have got through. It happens in football but in this day and age, five defeats and if you’ve got an eye on the next manager, who has already indicated he is ready to make his next move, then sometimes it is just easier to pull the trigger. 

How much of an impact did Smith have on Jack Grealish’s success? 

Our previous manager (Steve Bruce) had taken Grealish as far as he could. Smith recognised that he had a player in Grealish who had been at the club since he was six years old, he was Villa through and through, he sounded like he was Villa – it was the easy decision, to make him captain and make him the focal point of the team 

He’s head and shoulders the best player we have seen in a Villa shirt in a generation and, again, gutted that he left in the summer but you also can’t deny Jack the opportunity to play at the top level. 

I think when Smith got sacked Jack actually referred to him as the GOAT (greatest of all time) on Twitter, which I think is quite nice, a nice touch – although I think Jack said something similar when Bruce left, so you have to take this stuff with a pinch of salt 

Jack going was sad but Smith is very good at giving confidence to younger players and making them play to their full potential. Hopefully he does that at Norwich. 

The play-off success in his first season, given that he’s a boyhood fan and all of his connections, must have been very special? 

It was fantastic. That first season, it couldn’t have been better. Obviously we were in the Championship and it’s not the Premier League but we were winning more games than, again, almost in a generation. 

We were winning consistently week in, week out. We were scoring more goals than the other side and as fans that’s what you like to see, to see your team winning. 

It’s not been nice this season so far, not winning, but I was convinced we would do better this season than we did last season. 

Last season wasn’t great because we weren’t winning as many but we managed to stay in the league and that I believe was the mission at the start of this season, stay there and kick on. 

First season, awesome, and Smith I’m sure will bring that belief and optimism to Norwich this season. Hopefully he keeps them up, that would be lovely to see. 

Why have things not worked for Emi Buendia so far since joining from Norwich? 

Aston Villa's Emiliano Buendia (centre) scores their side's first goal of the game during the Premie

Emi Buendia joined Villa from Norwich in a £38m deal this summer - Credit: PA

I don’t think you can expect players coming from a different league and system to just hit the ground running.  

If you look at Grealish, the most expensive English player of all time, he’s not firing on all cylinders at Man City, he’s looking bang average at the moment. 

Buendia, give him time. In the last match there were moments where you could see why we paid the money we did. If we give him another five or six games we’re going to see that on a much more regular basis. 

With Gerrard now hopefully inspiring a more attacking role, I think he’s going to be fantastic for us this season, I really do. 

- You can find Damian on Twitter @AVFCBlog or visit his website at TheVillaBlog.co.uk

NCFC EXTRA: How Norwich City’s pursuit of Dean Smith unfolded