Dean Smith insists Aston Villa are over Jack Grealish following his departure to Manchester City – and insists the fans need to do the same.
Villa fell 3-2 to the Hornets on the opening day of the season. The scoreline probably didn’t reflect the action of the game, with Smith’s side going three goals behind to the Premier League returnees before getting two consolation goals back.
Indeed, there was a real lack of creativity from Villa, with the loss of Grealish keenly felt.
Villa had to wait until the 70th minute for their first shot on target, just to underline that issue.
But with some supporters bemoaning their lack of imagination amid Grealish’s £100m exit, Smith has sent out a defiant message.
“We’re over Jack. He’s not here anymore, he’s not our player,” Smith insisted.
“The players who are here are fully aware that we’ve moved on from that already.
“(The) fans have had to move on as well because he’s not our player.”
Ismaila Sarr starred for Watford on their return to the top tier. The winger, again the subject of transfer speculation, set up debutant Emmanuel Dennis’ opener before scoring the second.
Cucho Hernandez made it 3-0 moments after coming on for his first appearance.
Villa did rally late on, with John McGinn pulling one back and Danny Ings scoring from the penalty spot deep into stoppage time.
Smith frustrated by first-half showing
Sarr caused problems for Villa’s defence throughout the game, and his runs down the right had forced Smith into an early half-time substitution. That’s after he had got the better of defender Matt Targett on a number of occasions.
The Villa boss made his displeasure clear to his players at the interval but they were unable to find a way back into the match.
“The first half they were miles off it from where we’ve been and I told them that in no uncertain terms at half-time,” Smith said.
“You can’t come and expect to play casual and it was almost like a friendly international at times. You have to go and play with intensity.
“We came here to win a football game and we didn’t do enough to win a football game and we helped Watford on their way, especially in the first half.”