It's now all about next season and a lot has to change

Am I happy that we're staying in the Premier League, yes I am, very happy. It's where Aston Villa should be and I believe that this Club should be challenging for silverware. Many think that statement is ludicrous and think I should just be happy that we're in the Premier League and that is where my issues start.

We're the biggest Club in the second city and our history shows us that we can compete and logic dictates that we can. But so many associated with the Club are just happy to be in the League and it scares me. It scares me for the future of the Club.


I don't know how else to write this without annoying so many people, but I was a little embarrassing in the way we celebrated after the match against West Ham. One reporter I heard on the radio that evening even made the comment that we were celebrating at the final whistle like we had won the World Cup.

And I heard Ole Gunnar the day after talking about how his players were happy, but that they all know they have work to be done and that they should be challenging for silverware. You'd have thought we won silverware by how the players acted and how supporters were acting on social media. It might have changed now, it probably has. I've not been back in Twitter since.

Don't get me wrong, be happy, I am. But it's also, to a large extent, the Club that have created this picture and feeling. The Club set the standard. And I know this is strange again to write, but I want my Club to act bigger than they are.

For me, we shouldn't celebrate staying in the League. We should be happy we are staying in the League for sure, but after the way that we set out to play against West Ham, we should also be concerned. Concerned because when the pressure was on our manager, he sent the players out to play pre COVID-19 and that for me is a massive red flag.

It turns out we didn't need to win, but we went out to not lose. That isn't how Aston Villa should be playing. And it's definitely not the way forward for Aston Villa. We played with fire and we are fortunate it didn't burn us and somewhat fortunate to still be in the Premier League.

I was actually quite annoyed watching the game after the performances we put in against Manchester United, Everton, Palace and Arsenal. They were matches we needed to win and we played like a team that wanted to win. We shouldn't chop and change, we have to go out to win every match and if we do, we'll get used to playing that way and believe it or not, we'll start to win more.

It will also attract the right type of player to this Club. Who is really going to want to play for us knowing that we're going to go out to not lose? The Premier League is different to the Championship and this has to change. And there can not be excuses or second chances, we're either setting ourselves up to win or it's something else. If the manager doesn't change his outlook, I'm fairly confident the owners will replace him. They're not going to want to go through this again.

For me it's a mindset thing. In this League, you're one of three things; a winner, a survivor or out of your League and you've guessed it, to be the Aston Villa I believe we can be, we need to be a winner and I'm not convinced Dean Smith is the manager based on the West Ham game.

But we have seen that he can send the players out to win. And we also saw against West Ham even though we went out to not lose and got the first goal, even when you send the team out to not lose, the other team can score. We can't gamble in this League and by gamble I mean play to not lose. Playing that way is why we ended up where we ended up this season.

We now have until September 12th to prepare for next season and we need to bring in two players and keep most of what we have and I write this because we're not going to challenge next season for the title, we need to build a team and this takes time. The last thing we should do now is go out and make too many changes again. We should have learnt from those mistakes.

If the owners think that will best be achieved with a new manager, we thank Dean Smith and wave him a fond farewell. But if the owners think Dean Smith can manage to get the team playing the right way, week in week out, then we hope that Dean Smith does this next season. But there can be no second chances and no more excuses.

And I believe this is the desire of these owners and I think the first thing they will be doing this summer is trying to convince Jack that that is the plan. If they can convince him, I'm sure he'll want to stay. But you can't fool a player into believing that and then have a manager send the team out to not lose. There has to be a clear mandate from the very top and everyone has to align to it and believe it is possible.

You don't win games by playing not to lose. You win games by going out there to win. We need to have that mindset shift next season as a Club. And many supporters need it also.