Smith makes Grealish claim as he puts blame on ‘unrecognisable’ Villa

Villa boss Dean Smith staring into the distance

Dean Smith put full blame on his Aston Villa side for their defeat to Watford and suggested they would have lost even with Jack Grealish in their side.

Villa fell 3-2 to the Hornets on the opening day of the season. The scoreline probably doesn’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.

Emmanuel Dennis netted the opener on his debut for Watford before Ismaila Sarr doubled the lead before half-time.

Another debutant, Cucho, added to the scoreline just 43 seconds after coming onto the pitch as a second half substitute.

John McGinn got one back for the visiting side soon after and new signing Danny Ings scored a late stoppage time penalty to further reduce the deficit.

But it was ultimately a disappointing start to a season which Villa fans will be holding out a lot of hope for.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Smith said: “We were unrecognisable from what I’ve seen in pre-season in the first half and what I had seen last season.

“We lacked intensity and got done on the counter. We were better in the second half but always going to leave ourselves a little open.

Aston Villa's Danny Ings jumping for a header

“We’ve got new players who can play in a number of different positions. We were missing Ollie Watkins through injury.

“Whether Jack [Grealish] is in or not we can perform certainly a lot better than that. We had spells in the second half.

“There is always a bounce when you are newly promoted and their fans got behind them but I don’t put the loss down to that.”

Dream start to Prem return for Watford 

Contrastingly, Watford boss Xisco Munoz was over the moon with how his side began life back in the top-flight.

“Today was an amazing day. Perfect because we meet with our fans, they give a good support and I am very happy because a very important three points.

Watford's Cucho Hernandez celebrating his goal against Aston Villa

“An amazing performance, the team was very hungry. We need to keep going. The team was hungry and this is important.

“I am very happy for the guys because they worked very hard. They are happy because they won this important three points.

“We know what is the Premier League, we know about Aston Villa and we know we can have a little mistake. If you have a mistake then they have very good players.”

READ MORETottenham and Aston Villa neck and neck in race for Leeds midfield target