The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece has revealed the “huge” under-the-radar Aston Villa blow that has been costing the club since the summer.
While Jack Grealish’s exit to Manchester City was of course one of the biggest and most high-profile departures from Villa Park this summer, a couple of members from Dean Smith’s backroom team, John Terry and Richard O’Keilly, also walked out the door.
And now, Preece has indicated that the duo were both massive presences behind-the-scenes at the club, and that they have been “missed massively.”
He commented: “I said this in my talking points piece that JT and ROK leaving is looking bigger by the week. The pair have been missed massively around BMH. It’s down to the new group now to get things right. Villa were without Ings, Sanson, Douglas and Traore yesterday. It just can’t continue like this, surely. In terms of backroom staff, Villa are continuing to to add to Lange’s recruitment team ahead of the January window.
“The touchline is a hectic one now with MacPhee running out to players barking instructions. Smith tends to stick with Shakespeare during the game. There’s a lot of information being passed around which could be confusing. I said this, JT and ROK’s departures appear bigger by the week. The pair were huge for this group of players.”
While making the right big-money signings are all well and good, one of the key things that Smith should have done over the summer, is ensure his backroom team was complete.
When news emerged of both Terry’s and O’Keilly’s exits, the Villa boss should have acted swiftly to address that and bring in the right people around him so that level of expertise and knowledge would not be missed too much.
Instead, he lost two of his biggest and most important lieutenants, and when such a change occurs, it’s inevitable that it’s on the pitch and on the training ground where it actually ends up hurting the most.
With the club now 15th in the table and with no win in four, they clearly could have done with those figures behind the scenes.
Villa fans will surely be concerned at how the club have still not managed to replace the duo adequately enough more than a few months afte they initially left.