This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
Former Leeds United and Manchester City full-back Danny Mills has defended Dean Smith’s comments over Jack Grealish following their disappointing draw against West Ham – speaking to Football Insider.
Smith’s men were thoroughly underwhelming when all three points were there for the taking, considering the Hammers went down to ten men with 23 minutes plus added time still left on the clock.
Several of the 48-year-old’s stars weren’t at the races on Monday night, but the Villa boss singled out their captain in particular for his poor showing by claiming the midfielder “wasn’t quite as good as we expect of him” and that the “quality was just lacking.”
Though Mills, who played in the 2002 World Cup for England, believes Smith was simply trying to psych out his key man so that his performances improve, he said:
“I thought he created chances, got himself into one of two shooting positions as well – I don’t think it was the worst performance in the world.
“Maybe the manager’s just using a little bit of psychology, saying ‘Okay, you can do more for us.’ He knows him better than most, and he knows how to get the best out of him. Maybe that’s what he feels Jack needs.
“Just a little ‘Come on, you can do this.’ Maybe that will work for him.”
Villa now face a tough game against Arsenal on Sunday and could well be bottom of the Premier League table if results don’t work in their favour.
Grealish hasn’t been fantastic so far this season, but you can say that about a lot of the players around him – particularly the attacking ones as the west Midlands club are one of the lowest scorers in the division.
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Mills is right to suggest that Smith is using this to try and get the popular midfielder properly going this season though it should be served as a warning too – that no player is immune to criticism.
Villa have a whole host of options in midfield so it’s not as if Grealish is untouchable because that would send the wrong message.
They all need to up their game – it’s as simple as that.