Midfielder Jack Grealish feels a positive relationship with Aston Villa manager Dean Smith is behind his superb form this season.
Grealish, 25, has played all but three minutes of Villa’s 2020-2021 Premier League campaign. The talented forward has scored six goals while his 10 assists have been instrumental in the West Midlanders’ success.
They sit ninth in the top-flight standings, with 32 points from 20 games played. Their spot in the Premier League for next seasons is already virtually assured.
It is now a case of pushing for Europe over the remainder of the campaign. Grealish has had his share of off-field problems over the years. But he is now fully focused on playing football and has been a stalwart for the Villans.
He is a big fan of Smith. But the England man joked that even missing out on three minutes of action against Newcastle angered him.
“I can’t really give him enough praise, the only negative I can give him is that he took me off the other week,” he told Peter Crouch on BT Sport. “I was fuming I was, I was devastated. When my number went up I thought surely he’s got the wrong number there.”
The Birmingham-born ace is now part of the Three Lions squad. It took a while for Gareth Southgate to be convinced but his boots have done the talking.
The hope will be that Grealish can maintain that form to secure a spot in England’s Euro 2020 squad this summer.
Smith’s influence paying dividends
Smith was a somewhat controversial choice to succeed Steve Bruce in the Villa dugout. It was thought that a big-name manager might come in to try and revive their fortunes.
But the 49-year-old had cut his teeth at Walsall and Brentford to earn the right to manage a big club. Grealish is certainly happy he made the move north and views his boss as a father figure.
“Like I said, since I’ve been here the manager has been excellent with me,” he added. “I can speak to him about anything. If I’ve got problems anywhere, off the field, or anything I can always speak to him.”
Villa will look to add to their points tally on Saturday when they welcome Arsenal to Villa Park. Smith’s men lost 3-1 to West Ham last time out while nine-man Arsenal went down 2-1 to Wolves.