Reports claim Aston Villa are keeping tabs on Denmark manager Kasper Hjulmand and could make a move if Dean Smith cannot turn things around.
Smith, 50, is now under intense pressure after Friday’s defeat to Southampton. The 1-0 reverse at St Mary’s was the West Midlanders’ fifth straight top-flight loss. The poor run has seen the Villans slip from eighth in the table to 15th.
And they are now just two points above the relegation zone, with 10 points from 11 games played. Smith has been in charge at Villa Park since October 2018.
He has won 55 and lost 56 of his 139 games in charge. And it seems as though the knives may be out for the former Brentford tactician.
The West Bromwich-born coach gained promotion to the Premier League during his first season at the helm. He led the club to a 17th-place finish the following campaign before finishing 11th last season.
It appeared as though he was making steady progress but 2021-2022 has not gone to plan. Most pundits believe that he should be given time to turn things around.
He leapt to the attention of the footballing world when leading the Danes to the Euro 2020 semi-finals. And that was in the wake of the Christian Eriksen crisis which saw the ex-Tottenham midfielder collapse during a match with Finland.
They eventually lost 2-1 to England after extra-time in the last-four but the Red and White have maintained momentum.
Hjulmand has guided them to eight wins from eight in World Cup 2022 qualification. And they have yet to concede a goal, having scored 27.
Hjulmand a top-flight winner
Hjulmand has possibly flown under the radar as a coach due to mainly working in his native Denmark. The Danish Superliga is not as high profile as some of the European leagues.
But he did win the title with Nordsjaelland in 2011-2012. The Aalborg-born manager was given a chance to manage in the German Bundesliga, replacing Thomas Tuchel at Mainz in May 2014.
However, he lasted only 24 games before being sacked following a poor run of results. His star seems to be on the rise once again, however, and Villa are thought to be keen.
They might not pull the trigger just yet. But Smith will be worried if his side lose to Brighton and Crystal Palace in their next two league games.