Nobody can say this isn't a big or important match today and the manager will know this. It's so important that not winning will have some coming out against the manager. But we've already entered that period and I wrote about it over a month ago here.
When the grumbles start, you need to start winning and we haven't. And it's actually getting worse. It's local derbies that can push people over the edge and it gives them a reason to say what they've been thinking.
And if we win today, it only papers over the cracks. We need to win five in a row for people to start believing again in Dean Smith. The irony is, as long as he doesn't relegate us this season, he has to be given more time and much more than just a few weeks next season.
But all that written, this is the modern game and it doesn't matter what I believe. What does matter is what I hope and I hope that it will get better again. The match facts are below and there is also a video. Enjoy.
Match facts from the BBC
- Aston Villa host West Bromwich Albion for the first time since their Premier League relegation season in September 2015, when then boss Tim Sherwood's side lost 1-0 to a goal from Saido Berahino.
- Six of the last 10 league meetings between Villa and Albion have ended as draws (plus two wins each).
- Villa have fallen behind in seven of Dean Smith's 10 home league matches as manager - but have only lost once.
- Albion are looking to keep four consecutive away clean sheets in all competitions for the first time since a run of five in April 2002, when Baggies boss Darren Moore was a regular.
- Villa boss Dean Smith has lost just one of his last 22 home Championship matches played on a Saturday - a 1-0 defeat by Norwich City, with Brentford, in January 2018.
- Under Darren Moore, Albion have won all 10 away league games when they have gone ahead.