Get the best out of Jack Grealish and fix the defence: Dean Smith and John Terry's to-do list at Aston Villa

Villa languish in 15th in the Championship, having won just three of their first 12 matches

Thursday 11 October 2018 10:51
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John Terry's career in numbers

Dean Smith has been named Aston Villa's new head coach, with Chelsea legend John Terry appointed as his assistant.

Villa are languishing in 15th in the Championship having won just three of their opening 12 matches, conceding 20 goals in the process.

Here are four things that Villa's new coaching duo must do to turn things around:

Win promotion

Tammy Abraham joined Villa on loan from Chelsea

That is the be all and end all as Villa need to win promotion to the Premier League to ensure they can combat any Financial Fair Play issues while also ending their three-year top-flight exile.

They needed to find £40 million to comply with regulations before Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris completed their takeover, and late window spending is likely to have raised that figure.

With the EFL expected to come down hard on Birmingham's breach, Villa cannot afford to miss out on promotion again.

Fix the defence

Defensive frailties were a key reason why Steve Bruce was sacked 

Smith and Terry were both centre-backs and should have the know-how to improve a defence which has kept just one clean sheet in the Championship this season.

They finished Steve Bruce's final game - a 3-3 draw with Preston - with a back four of right-backs and have been left unbalanced in defence.

Terry will be expected to handle the problem and it is a quirk of fate that Villa's best defender will be one who has just retired - and who they have failed to replace since he left in the summer.

Sort the goalkeeper problem

Johnstone joined West Brom on a permanent deal this summer

In addition to the back four, Villa have not resolved their goalkeeping issue from the summer and have used four this season.

Sam Johnstone's successful loan from Manchester United looked to have sorted their problem but he joined West Brom on a permanent deal in the summer.

Villa could not afford to keep him and signings Orjan Nyland and Andre Moreira have failed to impress.

Jed Steer started the opening-day win at Hull City but was then shipped out on loan to Charlton Athletic, while Mark Bunn made just his second start of 2018 in Bruce's finale.

Get Jack Grealish firing again

Grealish was the subject of interest from Tottenham this summer

There has been hype around midfielder Jack Grealish since he made his debut 2014 but he has consistently failed to deliver.

One excellent performance in the FA Cup semi-final against Liverpool in 2015 is not enough and Grealish has admitted he has not performed this season.

Just one assist in 12 appearances this term is a meagre return for a player that has been lauded by the Villa fans, who are prepared to overlook his failings.

There is talent there and Smith must harness it consistently - which five managers have failed to do.

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