Speaking exclusively to Football FanCast, former Premier League midfielder Carlton Palmer has hailed Aston Villa assistant head coach Craig Shakespeare for the impact he has had at the club.
Shakespeare, who has spent time working with Leicester City and the England national team, was added to Villa’s backroom staff by manager Dean Smith in August 2020 as the 49-year-old looked to add more experience to his coaching team.
That coaching team, of course, also includes former Chelsea and England captain John Terry, and Palmer believes the ex-central defender and Shakespeare have played a massive part in Villa’s defensive improvement this season. He told FFC:
“Conceding goals was a major thing that they had to address. I think he’s [Smith] done a fantastic job, he really has. I think his recruitment of Craig Shakespeare… been number two to Nigel Pearson, number two to Sam Allardyce at Everton, fantastic. He really is a fantastic coach.
“So he’s done well recruiting that and, of course, he’s got an ex-England international centre-back there. So obviously that will help with the defensive side of things.”
Without a doubt, the Villans have been exceptional in defence this term. In 27 league games, Smith’s men have conceded just 28 goals (per WhoScored). Only Chelsea (25) and title favourites Manchester City (21) have managed to register better records in that department.
It is quite the shift from last season, with Villa conceding 67 goals by the end of the 2019/20 Premier League campaign, the second-worst record in the division.
The Midlands club have also managed to keep 14 clean sheets this term, a number that only Chelsea (15) and Manchester City (16) can once again beat, really putting into perspective how solid they have been since last September.