‘We weren’t as fit pre-lockdown as we could have been, or should have been’: Aston Villa boss Dean Smith admits he didn’t expect a Premier League relegation this season
- Dean Smith believes that his Aston Villa players have not been fit enough this season
- But Smith believes his players have been especially unlucky with injuries
- Tom Heaton, Douglas Luiz and Wesley were notable absentees in 2019-20
- Jack Grealish will play against Manchester United on Thursday despite calf problems
Dean Smith has remarkably admitted that Aston Villa has not been fit enough for most of the Premier League season.
Villa faces a tough fight to prevent her from returning to the championship immediately – they are four safety points ahead of Thursday’s clash with Manchester United, who have won four and pulled one of their last five games.
Smith’s job was at stake after a 4-0 defeat at Leicester on March 9. That was Villa’s last league game for over three months after the coronavirus pandemic ended professional football in England until mid-June.
Dean Smith, the boss of Aston Villa, has revealed that he expected better fitness from his team
Smith admitted that he expected Villa to perform better this season, but believes they have only now reached the level of fitness required to compete in the top flight.
He said, “The fitness levels were great. I felt pre-lockdown that we were not as fit as we could have been, or should have been.
But that was a lot because Douglas Luiz came in [shortly before the season started]Marvelous Nakamba took a while, Matt Targett took a while. We went through a lot of changes in the summer and it took time to get them up to speed.
Smith believes that his Aston Villa players have been particularly unlucky with injuries during this period
“I thought we would have some more [than fighting relegation] to be honest. I never thought we would be a top six team. I knew it would be difficult.
“We also sustained major injuries during the season that have hindered us. Losing (goalkeeper) Tom Heaton and (striker) Wesley on New Year’s Day was a huge blow.
“To lose Tyrone Mings to Leicester, to lose John McGinn to Southampton. We lost some of our big players and couldn’t handle it well enough then. ‘
Villas have been without a home win over United in 25 years. Captain Jack Grealish, a transfer target for United, is expected to play despite calf problems.