Dean Smith believes the hyperbole surrounding Aston Villa’s recent results is nothing more than social media narrative.
It is the club’s worst run in 15 months and includes, arguably, Villa’s worst 45 minutes under Smith in the defeat at Arsenal last weekend, which came on the back of his side squandering a two-goal lead in the final 10 minutes to lose 3-2 at home to Midlands rivals Wolves.
Smith has endured tougher streaks at Villa and ahead of Sunday’s game against West Ham at Villa Park he delivered a calm and considered assessment of his team’s faltering form.
“The negative is unfortunately you can’t control the narrative out there, and it’s usually down to social media,” said Smith.
“We’ve had two narrow defeats against Tottenham and Wolves, and we were comfortable in the Wolves game and we’ve had one bad half of football where we were terrible but when they were very good.
“The players don’t need any reminding of that. They know that. But the second half (at Arsenal) is certainly more of what we need and what we want. So, the players know where they are.
“They’re good enough to compete and have shown that already against the likes of Manchester United, Everton, Chelsea, Tottenham. But we need to put that right this Sunday.
“It hasn’t been anywhere near a disaster. If our performances were disastrous, I would be a lot more worried than I am.”
One area of concern for Smith, however, has been defending set-pieces. Villa, who hired Austin MacPhee as a specialist set-piece coach during the summer, have conceded goals from three corners in their last two matches.
It worried Smith enough for the team to work on it to iron out those defensive issues.
He said: “I spoke about the Wolves set-pieces and how they were second-phase problems. We were actually very good at second phase at Arsenal, so we put that right. We just didn’t make our first contacts well enough which allowed them to score a goal.
“For me, it was individuals not doing their jobs well enough and that probably summed up the performance in the first half.
“We brought in a coach at the start of the season because we believed set-pieces are somewhere we can improve.
“We will take the plaudits when it goes for us and we will take the criticism when it doesn’t. But there is a continuing focus on all things to make us better.”