Aston Villa have confirmed some major news right before their Premier League season gets underway against Watford this weekend…
Just a couple of days ahead of the game against the Hornets, the Midlands club revealed via their official website that their assistant head coach Richard O’Kelly has left his position with immediate effect, with Villa manager Dean Smith paying tribute to his work.
The 50-year-old said: “Richard has worked with me for the best part of a decade and we have always had a really close relationship. We are friends as well as colleagues and I will miss him. I would like to thank him on a personal level for the dedication and support he has always given me and on behalf of everyone at Aston Villa we wish him all the very best for the future.”
Responding to the news on Twitter, the Birmingham Mail’s Ashley Preece said: “Come as a real surprise to all of us; didn’t see it coming. Hoping to find out why it’s happened tomorrow. RoK was still bossing the analysts around on Sunday, telling them to come down for the HT debrief. A total surprise, Son. Points to a big coaching shake-up.”
As Preece says, this news on O’Kelly has come as a real shock to everyone associated with Villa, and with the news coming out on the verge of the new season, it is hardly great timing for Smith and co.
Given the fact that he’s worked with Smith for nine years now, and is clearly a big influence in and around the squad judging by the comments from the manager and Preece, Villa will be missing a huge figure in their backroom staff at a time when they really want to hit the ground running.
It comes as a real setback for Smith, and it’s one which may leave fans worried about how much of an impact the exit will have, and how quickly the Villa boss can find a replacement for him – all the more so with the 50-year-old’s assistant John Terry also departing in recent weeks.
Given the success of the summer transfer window thus far, Villa fans would no doubt have been very hopeful of getting a good start in the Premier League, but this latest news may just have thrown a spanner in the works.