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Press Conference hot topics: Smith/Purslow on Aston Villa direction, John Terry, promotion, January funds and more

CEO Christian Purslow: Why we appointed Dean Smith The Verdict: Aston Villa Ladies 0-0 Durham Women
Press Conference hot topics: Smith/Purslow on Aston Villa direction, John Terry, promotion, January funds and more
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New Aston Villa Head Coach Dean Smith and CEO Christian Purslow spoke to an array of broadcast, written and radio journalists on Monday, with the new coaching set-up officially unveiled at Villa Park.

To begin, the pair conducted a press conference in the media suite. Here's the best of what they had to say...


Dean Smith

On what it means to be at Aston Villa...

It means a lot due to my allegiances here as a child.

My father worked here for 25 years as a steward.

But people also forget I've been involved in football for 30 years, none of which have been involved with Aston Villa.

My allegiance has been as a kid and I’ve always kept hold of it. It wasn’t an emotional decision, it was a rational decision.

The rest of the emotion comes from family and friends.

On the challenge ahead...

It's a big challenge because we’re sat 15th in the Championship.

I know the football club and the supporters' demands. We should be higher.

The challenge is to improve and to get to where we want to.


On John Terry's appointment...

He’s very important. When I was at Brentford I worked with Richard O'Kelly and Thomas Frank, who'd been at Brondby in Denmark.

It made sense to have another coach. John has a wealth of experience and has played at the top level.

He’s always been interested in coaching. He knows the football club, he knows the dressing room and he knows the expectations.

It was good to get out on the grass with them today. It’s a good fit.

On the squad he's inheriting...

It’s a very good squad. We only coached 13 of them this morning with the rest being on international duty.

But it's a quality squad. They’re enthusiastic – they want to get better.


On his first game amid the backdrop of Sir Doug Ellis' passing...

We all felt the loss of Doug – my Dad used to show him to his seat, so there's a connection there.

But I’m also looking forward to the game. We've got a great record at home in the Championship and have only been beaten here recently.

We want to make it a fortress, to let the players express themselves and to go out and play.

I’ve had 13 players on the training ground this morning, some will be flying back intermittently.

We’re playing Saturday-Tuesday-Friday. But they’re hungry and want to improve. It’s what you want to see as a coach.

On promotion aims...

It's still realistic to say we want to get promotion this season – that has to be the aim.I've been in this league for the last three years and it's tough.

In that time you've had Wolves, who were outstanding, and Newcastle and Brighton before that, who were very good.

At the moment, I don't see anyone who looks like running away with it. There's not an insurmountable gap to the top two or six.


Christian Purslow

On Dean Smith...

Dean has outstanding qualities for the Head Coach of Aston Villa. He’s hugely experienced – in English football and the Championship.

He’s dedicated his career to a very recognisable and attractive playing style – he’s committed to it through thick and thin.

He has done it at a number of clubs and often under extreme budgetary constraints.

Most importantly, he has a very recognisable football coaching philosophy. His motivation, energy and hunger to manage at highest level is another outstanding feature of Dean. 

He really understands what Aston Villa is all about. That’s a very good set of qualities.

On John Terry...

It’s obvious that being at Villa last year in a playing capacity, John has really understood what Aston Villa is all about.

He’s familiarised himself in all aspects of the club. In that sense he'll help Dean to hit the ground running.

It’s tremendous that a former great footballer has taken the decision now to try and become a leading coach. It's the first step on a long journey.

It felt like working with Dean would be an excellent fit.


On if January funds will be available...


A critical third appointment was also announced last week in Jesus Garcia Pitarch.

Jesus, who has great experience at two major Spanish clubs in Valencia and Atletico Madrid in a Sporting Director capacity.

I expect Dean, Jesus and myself in the next four to eight weeks to listen to Dean’s assessment of the squad, to talk to Jesus and to build a plan for the rest of the season and the future.

If that includes players leaving and joining in January, that's fine.

On his first six weeks at the club...

I'm enjoying it tremendously. It’s been a very eventful start, it's safe to say.

But today truly marks the start of a new direction in which we manage the football club from top to bottom.

With the new appointments, we have a set-up that can build a truly excellent football club.

Excellence does not necessarily equate to being in the Premier League. I don’t buy the sense of entitlement and phrases like, 'we should be'.

We have to earn it with hard work and thoughtful organisation and planning. The key to that is making excellent appointments to the key areas that make a football club successful.

We've done that in appointing Dean Smith. Everything flows through the manager – the most important person at any club.

It’s been a hectic first six weeks in post, but I think we’re moving in the right direction thanks to the majority owners.

We’ve got a clean balance sheet, and now a very strong financial and a management base.

We have responsible, intelligent long-term owners who've entrusted myself and Dean to do our jobs.

It's now up to us to do them.

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Dan Connor
By @danconnor 15th October 2018