Dean Smith spoke to the media at Bodymoor Heath on Friday afternoon ahead of the Carabao Cup Final.
The Aston Villa manager addressed a number of key topics ahead of taking on Manchester City at Wembley.
Here’s what he had to say…
On managing at Wembley…
It’s an opportunity. Nine years ago, I was managing Walsall in League One and looking to keep them up.
If anyone had told me then that I’d be sat here leading Aston Villa into a domestic cup final, I’d have said you were crackers.
I see it as a massive opportunity. The lads have done ever so well to get to the final. I’ve always expressed the tradition of this cup for the Football club and now we’ve got an opportunity against one of the world’s best teams.
On the final…
I’ve experienced winning last year, and I’ve experienced losing in the EFL Trophy with Walsall there. The emotions are streets apart. It’s a place where you’ve got to go and try to win because winning is the best feeling when you’re there.
You still look back 24 years when Ian Taylor and Andy Townsend lifted the trophy and 1994 with Dalian Atkinson and Dean Saunders. They’re names that are etched in Aston Villa fans’ heads.
It’s an opportunity now for our players to go and etch themselves into the history of the Football Club.
On Manchester City…
When I saw the team sheet [against Real Madrid] and saw David Silva wasn’t playing, Sergio Aguero wasn’t playing and Sterling wasn’t playing, I thought they must be worried about playing Aston Villa!
They’re a fantastic team, whichever 11 they put out, and they have a fantastic coach. That’s why they’re such massive favourites in the game and why they can go to a place like the Bernabeu and get a result like they did.
We also know that we can push them. We went there earlier in the season and there was an absolute belief that we could beat them that day.
I like being the underdog because we can go out and play without anyone expecting us to win, but we have also have that drive to prove people wrong.
On Wembley experience…
The experience that a lot of them had last season in the Play-Off Final will hold them in good stead.
We’ve got an awful lot of players who are internationals and they know what it’s like playing in these big one-off games.
They’re thoroughly looking forward to it.