Aston Villa manager Dean Smith insists he had the final say on John Terry's appointment

The former England and Chelsea skipper will form part of Smith's backroom team in what will be his first coaching role following his retirement from playing last week

Brendan McLoughlin
Monday 15 October 2018 20:46
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Dean Smith unveiled as Aston Villa boss

New Aston Villa manager Dean Smith insists he had the final say on John Terry’s instalment as his assistant.

Smith, 47, arrives from Brentford to succeed Steve Bruce at Villa, currently 15th in the Championship, and becomes the third manager tasked with restoring the Second City club to the Premier League.

Terry, part of Bruce’s side defeated in the play-off final in May, had even emerged as a possible candidate for the vacancy, yet the former England and Chelsea skipper will instead form part of Smith's backroom team in what will be his first coaching role following his retirement from playing last week.

“When I discussed the role I was told there was an opportunity to take John," the Villa manager said.

Dean Smith at his first Villa press conference

“We spoke for about an hour and decided it was right. If it wasn’t, we both could have said no - and I would be the head coach at Aston Villa and looking to bring someone else in.

“But I felt it was a win-win for both of us. It was my decision to bring John in.”

Smith was joined by Terry, 37, for their first training session at Villa’s Bodymoor Heath headquarters on Monday morning.

He is confident Terry can follow the lead of his former England team-mates Steven Gerrard and Frank Lampard by making the step to become a No 1. Now though, says Smith, is the time for him to learn his new trade.

Smith and Chief Executive Christian Purslow

“John had his pencil case with him and sat in the office at 7.30am! He’ll be there tonight and earn his rest," said Smith, who was already acquainted with Terry before Villa's move for them.

“He’ll be the first to admit he was nervous. You’re going in front of people who were once in the dressing room with, having banter with, and getting involved in coaching them and trying to improve them.

“He’s got parts of that already in his make-up: we’ve seen that over the years as captain of his country, of one of the top teams in the country.

“I have no doubt in my mind that John Terry will be a very good coach and will probably go on to be a fantastic manager as well. He’s well aware that this is his apprenticeship now.

“If we’re all successful together then I’m sure there will be people knocking on the door to take him in future.”

Only Preston have conceded more goals than Villa’s 20 in the second tier.

Finding a solution is one of Smith’s first challenges – yet he maintains the return of Terry to Villa’s defence isn’t one of them.

“I think he made it very clear to everybody last week that he was hanging up his boots and retiring,” Smith added.

Smith previously managed Brentford

A lifelong fan - his father was a club steward for 25 years – the Brummie represents a popular appointment with Villa supporters, both due to his allegiances and playing style. He maintains, however, it was “not an emotional decision – a rational one.”

One of the biggest criticisms of Bruce’s reign was a lack of a clear playing identity. It is something Smith is determined to change.

"We want to develop an Aston Villa way,” he continued. "It certainly won't happen overnight, but very quickly we can give players ideas and how we want to do moving forward.”

Money will be made available for him to strengthen but Villa chief executive Christian Purslow is adamant they are “highly respectful” of Financial Fair Play and are “navigating within those rules.”

Bruce has departed Villa Park after two years

Smith’s first game comes at home to Swansea City on Saturday and family will be flying in from as far afield as the United States.

While Villa sit in the bottom half, they are just four points off the play-offs in what Smith deems this “the most even league” for some time.

“Obviously we want to get promoted as quickly as possible,” he added. “I have signed for this year and another two. There are three opportunities to get promoted and I hope it is the first one we take.”

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