2018 Highlight: Blues Victory Typified Pros and Cons of Dean Smith’s Villa Approach

The Second City derby in its Championship incarnation had become a bit of a snore fest for the neutral. Its appeal had experienced lessening interest beyond the West Midlands to such an extent that Sky TV didn’t even bother screening that 1-0 Villa Park win when Gabby scored the winner with the only Villa shot on target.

This season’s eventful 4-2 victory for Villa though, certainly put the spark back into the fixture.

The 4-2

Birmingham City had entered the fixture in decent form under Gary Monk, who had finally managed to turn draws into wins and had seen them punch above their weight to switch into play-off form.

Villa had entered the game off the back of an impressive 3-0 win at Derby, which chalked up back-to-back wins for the new Villa Head Coach, Dean Smith.

During the Villa Park game in which the Blues drew first blood, we saw the spectrum of what Smith brings to the table. Villa were caught out on the counter, yet at the other end could be an irresistible force going forward.

Goals, Goals, Goals – For & Against

In their four games against Derby, Blues, Forest and Middleborough, Villa scored a more than impressive 15 goals. All their opponents were top half teams with ambitions of at least the play-off places.

The Blues derby though showed up the big weakness of both the personnel in Villa’s backline and also how suspect Villa are to the counter due to their attacking focus.

It started a period of six games, where in five of them Villa conceded at least two goals in. A stat that swiftly suggests Villa won’t get promoted this season, if it continues.

The recent 2-2 draw with QPR and many of the Forest goals in the 5-5, were further of evidence of Villa being carved open on the counter all too easily.

Right Philosophy?

While many of us applaud Dean Smith gung-ho attitude, is it somewhat naive in terms of gaining promotion?

“My philosophy is this : 1-0, 2-0 or 5-0 up: never ever settle for it, you must be hungry for more,” said Smith, earlier in the season.

“If you do sit back not only are you inviting the opposition to get back into the game but you are showing them mercy. You have to look at the bigger picture, I don’t only want us to destroy our current opponent’s. I want to breed fear into our next ones.”

People often celebrate Smith’s playing style at his former clubs, but few mention the fact he’s never finished higher than 9th in any league. Are the two factors connected?

Or is it just a case of getting in better defensive personnel?

Time will tell in the remainder of the season.

In the meantime, if you missed it the first time (I didn’t get round to doing a post for this episode), MOMS also had an alternative experience of watching the Second City derby.

It involved an early wake-up call to be present at 7am to shadow the West Midlands Police Football unit on duty to see how they handled one of the most difficult football matches in the UK.

When it came to the game, MOMS spent most of the second-half on a control tower balcony overlooking the Holte, which was a novel experience.

In the below episode of the My Old Man Said podcast, MOMS discusses the day from its unique POV and the pros and cons of the match itself.

Listen to the show

Episode 57.5 Show Notes

A somewhat alternative take on the latest Second City Derby. From Rio to Moseley, from shadowing the police to discovering away fan cabbages, and viewing Villa’s glory on the pitch from an iron balcony overlooking the Holte End, we look back at an eventful Second City derby.

My Old Man Said’s David Michael is joined by Dan Rodgers and Chris Budd to discuss a true turning point in Aston Villa’s season, as Dean Smith’s team proves their resurgence is for real.

And, as usual, there’s plenty of laughs along the way.



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David Michael – @oldmansaid 

Dan Rodgers – @avfc_vilr

Chris Budd – @BUDD_music

Producer/Editor – David Michael

My Old Man Said – https://myoldmansaid.com

Villa Underground – http://www.villaunderground.com