The Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece has delivered his verdict on Aston Villa boss Dean Smith’s future.
Reports in recent days and weeks have suggested that the Villa manager is coming under increased pressure following a difficult start to the Premier League that has seen the Midlands club lie in the bottom half of the table.
And now, Preece has suggested that the next two games in the Premier League – against West Ham and Southampton respectively – could hold the key.
He said: “Villa have lost five from nine so pressure’s beginning to mount on the boss, of course it is. Smith’s once-indestructible grip on the job loosened as soon as Wolves won it in stoppage time 10 days ago.
“I dread to think what could happen if Villa lose their next two before the international break, which will take them to seven defeats from 11. That simply cannot happen. The next two games are huge in terms of Villa’s season – even at this early stage.
“I do believe Smith’s the right man for the job. He must prove his credentials once again here, though. It’s down to the boss to get a huge reaction from his players now. They badly let him down at Arsenal after he backed them to the hilt in his pre-match presser.”
After picking up an impressive win away at Manchester United a few weeks ago, things have rapidly taken a turn for the worse for Smith and Villa.
They followed up that 1-0 victory at Old Trafford with three successive defeats in the Premier League, and the manner of each of those losses would be the real shock.
Spurs were in a bad spell of form themselves under Nuno Espirito Santo, the Wolves defeat came as a result of a truly remarkable late collapse after leading 2-0, and the Arsenal loss was galling for its first-half shambles.
It’s no surprise then that the pressure has well and truly ramped up on Smith, and if things don’t improve markedly in terms of both their performances and results, then he could well find himself being one of the Premier League’s early managerial casualties.
Villa fans will be concerned about their side heading into this weekend.