Cool, calm and collected at Aston Villa, but Frank Lampard about to leave Derby

I've very purposefully made the title what it is. Watch the video and Dean Smith comes across relaxed and he talks about the players in a relaxed way also. It feels like we're in a very good place and the players have been speaking very positively this week.

On the other side, it looks like Frank Lampard is set to become the Chelsea manager next week. What sort of incentive does that give the Derby players?


But tomorrow, it's eleven versus eleven and as the manager says in the video below, anything can happen. But we do have momentum and we do have players that want to win for Aston Villa and the manager. I think that's important. That and momentum, another thing the manager talks about.

But I'm not getting too confident. Anything can happen in 90 minutes. But we're in the final and we have to take these moments to think about success. We have to visualise winning and what success might look like, because we don't get many chances.

For the players, that will be a different process. They'll be breaking the game down into chunks of five or ten minutes and working on movement, positioning and opportunity. They'll not be working on what it looks like, but they'll be imagining it and understanding what they have to do for 90 minutes to get there.

For us, it's about what happens tomorrow if we do go up. If we do, rumour has it the owners will have to pay Randy Lerner £30mn but they would have known that. They'll also know that we will need to make one or three additions to the squad. And this is me assuming we keep two or three of the loan players. I think all the loan players we have can play in the Premier League and I think most might want to stay.

And despite my belief that this squad we have could keep us up next season, it is inevitable that new players will be coming if we go up and the quality of those players is the indicator I'm looking for. That is the success I'm looking for and these owners excite me, so I think it will be a very interesting summer if we win tomorrow. I think it will also be interesting if we don't, but that isn't something I want to entertain at the moment.

Tomorrow, I'll be here all day, probably as nervous and excited as the rest of you. Come on Villa!

Pre-match video

Match facts from the BBC

  • Derby lost both of their Championship meetings with Aston Villa this season by an aggregate score of 7-0 (3-0 at home and 4-0 away).
  • Aston Villa have won six of their last nine matches against Derby (all in league competition), losing just once in this run, a 0-2 defeat in December 2017.
  • The last Championship playoff final to see both sides score was West Ham's 2-1 win over Blackpool back in 2012 - each of the last six has seen at least one side fail to find the back of the net.
  • This is only the sixth second-tier play-off final between the teams finishing 5th and 6th in the division that season and the first since 2005, when West Ham won 1-0 against Preston.
  • Aston Villa are the first side to reach back-to-back playoff finals in the second tier since West Ham in 2004 (runners up) and 2005 (winners). The last side to lose consecutive playoff finals at this level was Leicester City in 1992 and 1993.
  • Aston Villa have lost five of their last six in all competitions in matches played at Wembley Stadium, with their only victory in this run coming back in April 2015 versus Liverpool in an FA Cup semi-final, with goals from Christian Benteke and Fabian Delph securing a 2-1 win.
  • Derby are participating in their fourth second-tier play-off final, losing two (1994 and 2014) and winning one (2007) of their previous three.
  • Only Middlesbrough, Newcastle United, Sunderland and Swindon Town have ever lost three straight games at Wembley without scoring - Aston Villa have lost 0-4 to Arsenal and 0-1 to Fulham in their last two games there.
  • The team finishing sixth in the Championship have been promoted via the play-offs in just one of the last 13 seasons, with Blackpool beating Cardiff City in the 2010 final.
  • Aston Villa striker Tammy Abraham has scored four Championship goals (including play-offs) against Derby County - he has only netted more against Nottingham Forest (5).
  • Aston Villa boss Dean Smith will be taking charge of his first playoff final as a manager - he appeared in two such matches as a player, ending on the losing side for Leyton Orient in both 1999 (v Scunthorpe) and 2001 (v Blackpool) in fourth tier matches.
  • Harry Wilson has been involved in eight goals in his last 10 Championship matches for Derby (6 goals, 2 assists - including play-offs), and has scored 16 Championship goals this season - seven more than any other Rams player.
  • Should Derby win promotion, their tally of 74 points in the regular season would be the fewest by a side promoted to the Premier League since Crystal Palace in 2012-13 (72 points).
  • Excluding the goalless 2017 final between Huddersfield and Reading, 14 of the last 15 occasions a team has scored first in a second-tier play-off final has seen them go on to win promotion, with the exception being Cardiff City against Blackpool in 2010 (lost 2-3).
  • The two players to win the most fouls in the Championship this season (including play-offs) are Aston Villa's Jack Grealish (158) and Derby's Harry Wilson (113).