top of page

Game #5499

Aston Villa

Monday, 27 May 2019



Last 5: 🟨 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟩

Play Off Final

Attendance: 85,826

Derby County

Wembley Stadium, London

One of the great Villa days to end one of the great Villa seasons. Dedicated to all those who left us but will never be forgotten.

Aston Villa


Derby County

Assist(s) | Ahmed Elmohamady | 44’ |


Super John McGinn wins promotion for Villa, 27 May 2019




Monday, 27 May 2019

🟨 | 28’ Booking, Anwar El Ghazi for a bad foul
⚽ | 44’ Goal, 1-0, Anwar El Ghazi, Assist by Ahmed Elmohamady
🕒 | HT Aston Villa 1-0 Derby County
🟨 | 48’ Booking, Conor Hourihane for a bad foul
⚽ | 59’ Goal, 2-0, John McGinn
🔁 | 73’ Sub off, Albert Adomah 🔴, Sub on, André Green 🔴
🥅 | 81’ Goal, 2-1, (Derby County), Jack Marriott
🔁 | 86’ Sub off, Tyrone Mings, Sub on CKortney Hause
🕒 | FT Aston Villa 2-1 Derby County


Villa win promotion back to the Premier League at the third attempt.

Winger André Green made his final appearance for Villa aged 21 before being released in June 2020. During his time with Villa Green made 48 appearances and scored twice.

Centre back Axel Tuanzebe made his final appearance for Villa aged 21 before returning to Manchester United at the end of his loan spell. Tuanzebe spent two periods on loan with Villa and made 35 appearances.

Winger Albert Adomah made his final appearance for Villa aged 31 before being released by the club in July 2019. Adomah made 127 appearances and scored 22 goals over his 3 seasons with the club.

Centre forward Tammy Abraham made his final appearance for Villa aged 21 before returning to Chelsea at the end of his loan spell. Abraham scored 26 goals in his 40 games for the club becoming the first Villa player to score over 20 league goals for Villa since Peter Withe in the title winning team of 1980-81.

Aston Villa

European Cup / Champions League: 🏆
League Champions: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆 🏆🏆
League Cup Winners: 🏆🏆🏆🏆🏆
Last Trophy: 1995-96

Derby County

European Cup / Champions League: ❌
League Champions: 🏆🏆
FA Cup Winners: 🏆
League Cup Winners: ❌
Last Trophy: 1974-75


Derby County

Previous 5 vs. Derby: 🟩 🟥 🟨 🟩 🟩


Season | 2018-19 |
Matchday | #52 |
Manager Game | #38 |
Monday, 27 May 2019


Manager: Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | West Bromwich, 2018-2021
Referee: Paul Tierney | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Wigan, 2009-
Kick off: 3.00pm
HT Score: 🟩 1-0
FT Score: 🟩 2-1
FT Result: 🟩 Won
Last 5: 🟨 🟥 🟩 🟥 🟩


Referee: Paul Tierney | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Wigan, 2009-
Previous 5: 🟨 🟥
Last Match: 🟥 4 Feb 17, Villa 1-2 Forest (a)
Cards: 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨 🟨
Assistants: Adrian Holmes, Ian Hussin



🟨 🟨

Derby County

🟨 🟨 🟨

Paul Tierney


Albert Adomah comes in for André Green in the only change for Dean Smith.


Starting XI Average Age: | 26.40 |
Oldest Player: RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 🇪🇬 | 31.73 |
Youngest Player: CB Axel Tuanzebe | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 21.55 |

Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |



Dean Smith | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Frank Lampard | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |

Aston Villa

GK Jed Steer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Neil Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔁 |
CB Axel Tuanzebe | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 🇪🇬 | 🔥 |
M Jack Grealish | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Conor Hourihane | 🇮🇪 | 🟨 |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | ⚽ |
W Anwar El Ghazi | 🇳🇱 | 🟨 | ⚽ |
W Albert Adomah | 🇬🇭 | 🔴 | 🔁 |
CF Tammy Abraham | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔴 |

Derby County

GK Kelle Roos | 🇳🇱 |
LB Ashley Cole | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
CB Fikayo Tomori | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🟨 |
CB Richard Keogh | 🇮🇪 |
RB Jayden Bogle | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Mason Mount | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Bradley Johnson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Tom Huddlestone | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔁 |
W Harry Wilson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | 🟨 |
W Tom Lawrence | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | 🔁 |
W Mason Bennett | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🟨 | 🔁 |


🔁 W André Green | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 🔴 | for W Albert Adomah | 🇬🇭 | 73’ |
🔁 CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 86’ |


🔁 | CF Jack Marriott | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | ⚽ | for M Tom Huddlestone | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 63’ |
🔁 | CF Martyn Waghorn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | for W Mason Bennett | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | 69’ |
🔁 | W Florian Jozefzoon | 🇸🇷 | for W Tom Lawrence | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | 73’ |


GK Lovre Kalinić | 🇭🇷 |
M Glenn Whelan | 🇮🇪 |
M Henri Lansbury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Mile Jedinak | 🇦🇺 |
CF Jonathan Kodija | 🇨🇮 |


GK Scott Carson (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
LB Calum MacDonald | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 |
M George Evans | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
M Jason Knight | 🇮🇪 |


1st XI Cost: £18.67m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 7/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £0.00m
Team Cost: £18.67m
Squad Cost: £44.41m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 10/18
Homegrown: 2/18


GK Jed Steer | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £0.49m |
GK Lovre Kalinić | 🇭🇷 | £5.40m |

RB Ahmed Elmohamady | 🇪🇬 | £0.99m |
LB Neil Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | Exchange |

CB Kortney Hause | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |
CB Tyrone Mings | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |
CB Axel Tuanzebe | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |

M Mile Jedinak | 🇦🇺 | £4.14m |
M Conor Hourihane | 🇮🇪 | £3.15m |
M Henri Lansbury | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £3.06m |
M John McGinn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | £2.79m |
M Glenn Whelan | 🇮🇪 | £1.53m |
M Jack Grealish | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

W Anwar El Ghazi | 🇳🇱 | £8.10m |
W Albert Adomah | 🇬🇭 | £3.15m |
W André Green | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |

CF Jonathan Kodjia | 🇨🇮 | £11.61m |
CF Tammy Abraham | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |


1st XI Cost: £14.67m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 9/11
Homegrown: 1/11
Subs Cost: £10.38m
Team Cost: £25.05m
Squad Cost: £25.05m
Home Nation 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 🇬🇧 : 14/18
Homegrown: 2/18


GK Kelle Roos | 🇳🇱 | £0.02m |
GK Scott Carson (ex) | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |

LB Ashley Cole | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
RB Jayden Bogle | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
LB Calum MacDonald | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | Youth |

CB Richard Keogh | 🇮🇪 | £1.10m |
CB Fikayo Tomori | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |

M Bradley Johnson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £6.94m |
M Tom Huddlestone | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £1.89m |
M George Evans | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Free |
M Jason Knight | 🇮🇪 | Free |
M Mason Mount | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Loan |

W Tom Lawrence | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | £4.72m |
W Florian Jozefzoon | 🇸🇷 | £2.66m |
W Mason Bennett | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Youth |
W Harry Wilson | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | Loan |

CF Martyn Waghorn | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £4.80m |
CF Jack Marriott | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | £2.92m |


Injury | 2 |
GK Ørjan Nyland | 🇳🇴 |
CB James Chester | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 |

Out on Loan | 13 |
M Gary Gardner | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Small Heath
RB Mitch Clark | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 | Port Vale
M Aaron Tshibola | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Kilmarnock
RB Ritchie De Laet | 🇧🇪 | Melbourne
CF Ross McCormack | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 | Motherwell
F Rushian Hepburn-Murphy | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Cambridge
F Callum O’Hare | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Carlisle
W Corey Blackett-Taylor | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Walsall
RB James Bree | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Ipswich
M Jake Doyle-Hayes | 🇮🇪 | Cambridge
F Scott Hogan | 🇮🇪 | Sheffield United
F Harry McKirdy | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 | Newport
RB Frédéric Guilbert | 🇫🇷 | Caen


Not Recorded

Player Positions:

GK : Goalkeeper
CB, D, B : Centre Back, Defender, Back
FB, LB, RB, WH : Full Back, Left Back, Right Back, Wing Back, Wing Half

M, CH, LH, RH : Midfielder, Centre Half, Left Half, Right Half
W, OL, OR : Winger, Outside Left, Outside Right
F, IF, IL, IR : Forward, Inside Forward, Inside Left, Inside Right, Second Striker, False 9
CF : Centre Forward

Match Symbols:

⚽ | Goal
🔥 | Assist
🔁 | Substitution

🟨 | Booking

🟥 | Sending off

🆘 | Poor refereeing performance
🟢 : Debut 🔴 : Final Game



🔴 W André Green | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |
🔴 W Albert Adomah | 🇬🇭 |
🔴 CF Tammy Abraham | 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 |


Possession F | 43%
Possession A | 57%
Shots F | 9
Shots A | 10
Shots on Target F | 3
Shots on Target A | 2
Corners F | 3
Corners A | 5
Fouls F | 13
Fouls A | 17


2021-22 Matchweek 38.jpg


Quotation Marks.png


*Villa boss Dean Smith*

“It feels right that Villa are in the Premier League, the history and the size of the club, the fans it has – I believe it is a Premier League club and that’s not me being a supporter.

“But we’ve done some hard years trying to get back into the Premier League. We’ve fallen on hard times. Last season was very tough for everyone who went through defeat here against Fulham. They asked me to take on the job, it was two of Steve Bruce’s signings who scored the winning goals, so every credit to him. But we work very hard every day and the potential with the owners that we have is massive.”

“I’ve got a special connection with the lad [Jack Grealish], he’s a Villa fan, he’s been through a lot in his career so far. A lot of people’s perceptions of him are him lying in a road when he was 17 or 18. He was thrust into the limelight as a young kid, but, boy, the kid has matured. I had no qualms giving him the captaincy.”
*Villa CEO Christian Purslow*

“I am pleasantly surprised. We are a little bit ahead of target in terms of getting promotion.

“We’ve had a period of poor management at the club,” he continued.

“On the recruitment side in particular, things have not been handled as I think they should be in the way our fans expect, which is for us to be a young exciting team and a team that over time establishes itself back in the Premier League.

“That will be our goal. We have a core of a good team but we need to recruit well this summer and make sure that when we arrive in the Premier League we do our great club justice.”

*BBC Sport*
Monday, 27 May 2019

*Aston Villa won promotion to the Premier League and secured an estimated £170m windfall as they held off a late Derby County fightback to win the Championship play-off final at Wembley.*

Villa, beaten by Fulham in last season’s final, seemed to be cruising to victory when John McGinn added to Anwar El Ghazi’s first-half strike to put them 2-0 up with 30 minutes to go.

However, Rams boss Frank Lampard threw caution to the wind and his side set up a frantic finale when substitute Jack Marriott’s effort from eight yards took a deflection off Martyn Waghorn on its way in.

Despite seven minutes of injury time they could not force an equaliser and now face another season in the second tier, while Villa return to the Premier League for the first time since relegation in 2016.

Promotion at Wembley caps off a remarkable three months for Villa who had looked out of the promotion race before a club-record 10-match winning run saw them finish fifth.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the value of the game, the first half was a cagey affair.

Rams midfielder Mason Mount was the first player to register a shot on target when he fired straight at Villa keeper Jed Steer from 20 yards late in the half.

With the game drifting towards the break goalless, Dean Smith’s side launched a quick attack that El Ghazi finished off by coming in on the blindside of the static Jayden Bogle and diverting it into the net with his back.

They doubled their advantage when Rams goalkeeper Kelle Roos misjudged the flight of a deflected El Ghazi shot and McGinn beat him to it to head into an empty net.

That sparked Derby into life and they grew into the game before the combination of forwards Marriott and Waghorn got them back in it.

But it was not enough and they now face a 12th successive season in the Championship.

Fine end to turbulent season

Victory at the national stadium brings a successful end to what has been at times a tumultuous year for Villa.

Days after defeat by Fulham in last season’s Championship showpiece it was revealed the club had missed a deadline to pay HM Revenue & Customs £4m and it seemed likely that star player Jack Grealish would have to be sold.

With administration a serious concern, Chinese owner Tony Xia eventually sold the club to billionaire businessmen Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris in July.

They decided to stick with boss Steve Bruce until October, but after an indifferent start to the season, sacked the 58-year-old after a 3-3 draw with Preston, which had seen an irate fan throw a cabbage at him.

Bruce was replaced in the dugout by Brentford manager and Villa fan Smith, with former Chelsea and Villa defender John Terry as assistant, and results initially improved.

However, following an injury to midfielder Grealish at the start of December the team went on a torrid run of form and by the end of February they were eight points off the play-offs, having played two games more than some teams around them.

Grealish returned to the side and was made captain for the home game against Derby on 1 March. The 23-year-old scored the fourth goal in a 4-0 win over the Rams which sparked a run of 10 successive victories and Villa qualified for the play-offs with two games to spare.

They squeezed past local rivals West Brom on penalties to set up a meeting with Derby, who they had beaten by an aggregate of 7-0 in their two league meetings this season.

This game threatened to go the way of the past two games between the sides when the superb McGinn bundled in with Roos flapping.

It proved to be a much closer finish but Villa managed to hang on to claim a promotion that boss Smith said felt “surreal”.

He said: “Reality sets in now. Last time I was sat in a news conference after a Wembley final, I had lost 2-0 to Bristol City in the Johnstone’s Paint Trophy final with Walsall (in 2015).

“It’s no more that we deserve because the players have made history (with the winning run).

“The potential here is massive. It feels right we are a Premier League club because of the history and the fan base that we have.”
*BBC Sport*
Monday, 27 May 2019

*Aston Villa: Boyhood fan Dean Smith proves perfect fit as manager*

*Aston Villa went for one of their own when Dean Smith was appointed as manager in October. Now the man who used to stand on the Holte End has led them out of the wilderness and into the Premier League.*

The 48-year-old landed the job on the back of impressive work at Walsall and Brentford, but this was a well-respected figure destined to return to Villa, the club that coursed through his veins as a lifelong supporter of the club where his father Ron used to be a steward.

Villa’s 2-1 win over Derby County at Wembley on Monday returned them to the top flight after three years.

Their departure from the Premier League in 2016 was confirmed after a season of total ignominy when they finished bottom with only three victories and 17 points from 38 games, 17 points adrift of the next closest side Norwich City.

Promotion completed the remarkable transformation fashioned by Smith.

He had all the appearances of the perfect fit for a proud club that had fallen on hard times and so it has proved.

It was a victory that received the royal seal of approval as Villa fan Prince William was awash with emotion at the final whistle.

But this was all about the work of Smith, who delivered a team from 13th when he took over from Steve Bruce - sacked after one win in nine league games - to promotion.

The speed of Villa’s rejuvenation under Smith was probably even beyond the expectations of those who brought him back to his spiritual football home, and it would have given him an extra layer of pleasure to share the scenes of elation with supporters at the final whistle at Wembley.

Villa’s joy was in stark contrast to Derby after they lost a third play-off final and now face an uncertain future, with manager Frank Lampard talked about as a potential target for Chelsea and key loan stars such as Liverpool’s Harry Wilson and Chelsea pair Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori by no means certain to be at Pride Park next season.

This was no play-off classic apart from a tense final phase, but for Villa it was all about exorcising the demons of last season’s Wembley loss to Fulham, whom they will pass on the way back up as the Cottagers reflect on more than £100m spent on taking themselves back into the Championship.

Villa’s defeat a year ago caused chaos as financial issues came to light, the club missing a £4m tax payment in June with then owner Dr Tony Xia believed to have cash-flow difficulties because of strict rules about money leaving his native China.

But billionaire businessmen Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris produced significant investment in a £50m majority takeover - and, most crucially of all, brought in Smith.

Smith, who watched last year’s play-off on his laptop on holiday in North Carolina, has proved an inspired selection and overcame a rocky start to take Villa into the play-off in a surge of outstanding form before completing the job at Wembley.

He had a vital connection with Villa’s support, acted as a unifying force and got a struggling team playing pacy, attacking football led by the midfield creation of Jack Grealish and John McGinn bolted on to the threat of striker Tammy Abraham.

The hard work will start once the deserved celebrations die down but Villa can now look forward to keeping another boyhood fan in Grealish, the beating heart of this side who would surely have been picked off by a Premier League club had they not gone up.

And with the estimated £170m riches afforded by this promotion, they can look to keep Abraham and build from a position of strength and optimism.

Abraham still has to prove himself as a Premier League striker but his numbers this season are impressive while even Grealish must show he can be as outstanding in elite company as he has been in the Championship.

Smith, however, can build on his superb achievements so far at a club with a huge fan base and renewed sense of purpose on and off the pitch - back where they and their supporters believe they belong.
*BBC Sport*
Monday, 27 May 2019

*Aston Villa promoted to Premier League: Dean Smith says club’s potential ‘massive’*

*Head coach Dean Smith feels Aston Villa’s potential is “massive” after winning the Championship play-off final to return to the Premier League.*

Villa beat Derby at Wembley to secure a promotion worth an estimated £170m.

Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, said: “It feels right we are a Premier League club because of the history and the fan base that we have.

“The club has gone through some hard years and losing here in last season’s final was tough.”

Smith, who left Brentford to succeed Steve Bruce as Villa boss in October, added: “I don’t know how it feels yet.

“The emotions came when I saw my family crying in the stands. It was a life-changing decision for me to come to this club.

“I isolated my feelings and was calm today. We had been playing must-win games for the past 15.”

The 48-year-old oversaw a club-record run of 10 successive league wins during March and April after making fellow Villa fan Jack Grealish captain, and Smith says he has a “special connection” with the playmaker.

“He’s a fellow Villa fan and he’s been through a lot in his career after he was thrust into the limelight at a very young age,” added Smith.

“I had no qualms making him captain because he’s a great kid.”

Smith told father he would be Premier League manager

Smith’s father, Ron, worked as a steward at Villa Park but now lives in a care home and his dementia means that he does not know his son is now Villa’s manager.

Smith said: “I went to see him on Friday and he opened his eyes for a couple of minutes and I told him that the next time I saw him I would be a Premier League manager. He smiled.

“It’s a terrible illness.”

Terry has been ‘breath of fresh air’ at Villa

Villa assistant coach John Terry has been linked with the managerial vacancy at Middlesbrough after Tony Pulis left the Teesside club earlier this month.

However, Smith believes the former England captain, who he called “a breath of fresh air”, will remain alongside him in the dugout at Villa Park next season.

“He’s been a pleasure to work with and he’s learning from me and (assistant) Richard O’Kelly and we’re learning from him.

“He’ll go on to be a great head coach further down the line.”
*The Guardian*
Monday, 27 May 2019

Emotional Dean Smith optimistic about Aston Villa’s future after Wembley win

A mixture of euphoria and optimism swept through Aston Villa as Dean Smith claimed they are back where they belong after winning promotion to the Premier League, and Nassef Sawiris, the club’s co-owner, said the “sky is the limit” following victory in the Championship play-off final.

Anwar El Ghazi and John McGinn scored the goals that gave Villa a 2-1 victory over Derby, on a day when Prince William, who has always supported Villa, was hugging former player John Carew in the stands.

“I’d love to meet him and tell him you support the right club,” Smith said, when asked about the royal presence at Wembley.

Victory for Villa goes some way to making up for the disappointment of losing to Fulham at Wembley 12 months ago and ends a three-year absence from the Premier League.

It was a particularly special achievement for Smith, who grew up supporting Villa and revealed that when he last spoke to his father, who has dementia, he made him a promise he intended to keep.

“I went to see my old man on Friday and I managed to get his eyes open for two minutes maximum. I said: ‘Next time I come and see you, I’ll be a Premier League manager.’ He smiled and nodded. Hopefully there was an understanding but it’s a terrible illness. For me, that was enough.”

Smith, who admitted he felt emotional when he saw his wife and children crying in the royal box as he walked up to lift the trophy, is confident Villa will push on next season.

“It feels right that Villa are in the Premier League, the history and the size of the club, the fans it has – I believe it is a Premier League club and that’s not me being a supporter.

“But we’ve done some hard years trying to get back into the Premier League. We’ve fallen on hard times. Last season was very tough for everyone who went through defeat here against Fulham. They asked me to take on the job, it was two of Steve Bruce’s signings who scored the winning goals, so every credit to him. But we work very hard every day and the potential with the owners that we have is massive.”

Smith singled out Jack Grealish, Villa’s captain, for praise. “I’ve got a special connection with the lad, he’s a Villa fan, he’s been through a lot in his career so far. A lot of people’s perceptions of him are him lying in a road when he was 17 or 18. He was thrust into the limelight as a young kid, but, boy, the kid has matured. I had no qualms giving him the captaincy.”

While Villa can look forward to next season, Derby face a summer of upheaval. Frank Lampard, who could yet emerge as a managerial target for Chelsea, will hold talks with Mel Morris, Derby’s owner, to establish how they will approach another campaign in the Championship. Five key players are out of contract, while Harry Wilson, Mason Mount and Fikayo Tomori, who have all impressed on loan, will return to their parent clubs.

“I’ve had no conversations with any other clubs,” Lampard said. “I’m proud to work for this club, whatever the owner decides the financial position is, that is for me to work with. I’m not sitting here bemoaning it but it’s crucial to find out where we’re at, because we need to to plan for next season.”
*The Guardian*
Monday, 27 May 2019

Aston Villa in Premier League heaven with Wembley play-off win over Derby

For Aston Villa , who are back in the big time, £170m richer and free from the demons that have tormented them ever since they lost in the play-off final 12 months ago, it was a day to remember. Prince William and John Carew hugged one another in the stands while Jack Grealish and his teammates celebrated wildly in front of the Villa fans, but the biggest and proudest smile belonged to the humble, down-to-earth man who has masterminded their return to the Premier League.

Dean Smith, who grew up supporting Villa, was living the dream as he held aloft the trophy at the end of a long and emotional afternoon at Wembley. Appointed manager in October, and at a time when Villa were drifting along in mid-table, Smith presided over the club-record run of 10 successive league victories across March and April that propelled them into the play-offs. Now the 48-year-old has completed the job.

It is a crying shame that Ron, his father who has dementia, could not enjoy the day as he would have in the past – the two would often go to Villa Park together in the 80s to watch their team – and it was hard not to think of that personal pain during those special scenes at the final whistle, when 40,000 supporters were singing Smith’s name.

With so much at stake, this was always going to be a day of fine margins, yet it seemed as though Villa handled the tension around the occasion better than Derby, who never played with any real conviction until they were two goals down and chasing the game.
Villa, as the Derby manager Frank Lampard ruefully reflected, scored those goals at crucial times, the first on the stroke of half-time through Anwar El Ghazi and the second shortly before the hour-mark, when Kelle Roos, the Derby goalkeeper, made one of those mistakes that tends to define matches.

A ball that was hanging in the air should have been punched clear but Roos, who was standing on his six-yard line, tried to claim it with both hands.

John McGinn, not for the first time this season, was in the right place at the right time and managed to get to the ball first and head it over the line. Villa tightened their grip on the game in the process.

Lampard responded by introducing Jack Marriott, who had been expected to start after coming off the bench to score twice at Elland Road in the semi-final second leg win over Leeds, and the substitute had more than a helping hand in the goal that gave Derby late hope. Swivelling about 10 yards out, Marriott drilled a low shot that deflected off Martyn Waghorn, another Derby substitute, and beyond Jed Steer.

With nine minutes to go and another seven of injury-time to be added – there was a long hold-up after Tyrone Mings had been unable to continue following a brilliantly timed tackle that the central defender made just before Derby’s goal – the opportunity was there for Lampard’s team to force extra time but Villa, to their credit, showed plenty of grit and resilience to hold on.

Steer came to claim some important late crosses while at the other end Villa could have grabbed a third on the counterattack had Grealish been a bit more single-minded and elected to shoot instead of passing. Grealish, who managed to cut an eye when lifting the trophy at the end, was not at his influential best but there is no doubt that he embraces everything about playing in the Premier League.

The Villa captain did have a small part in the opening goal, which was the best move of the first half by a distance, and ended with Conor Hourihane’s lofted pass releasing Albert Adomah in space on the right, where Ashley Cole, Derby’s 38-year-old left-back, was outnumbered.

Adomah cut the ball back to Ahmed Elmohamady, who had so much time and space that he was able to take a touch before curling a lovely right-foot cross into the penalty area. Jayden Bogle, Derby’s right-back, was caught on his heels as El Ghazi, darting across his opponent, threw himself at a ball that went in off a shoulder. They all count – especially when it is the most lucrative game in world football.

El Ghazi was also involved in Villa’s second, his shot looping up in the air after taking a deflection off Richard Keogh and leading to that moment when Roos, who really needed to be far more decisive, was beaten to the ball by McGinn, one of the smallest players on the pitch.

Although Lampard’s three substitutions helped to shift the momentum a little and Derby’s late pressure was rewarded when Marriott’s shot flicked off Waghorn, nothing was going to spoil Villa’s day.
*The Guardian*
Monday, 27 May 2019

John McGinn more than proves his worth in Aston Villa promotion

The midfielder, signed for £2.7m from Hibernian, showed against Derby he will not be out of place in the Premier League.

Above a baying, swaying sea of claret and blue Jack Grealish, alongside James Chester, lifted the play-off winners’ trophy high in the royal box but it was the Aston Villa captain’s overlooked supporting cast that propelled them to the Premier League.

Chief among these was John McGinn, the Glaswegian who spent the buildup to the final telling everyone there is more to Grealish than junior-size shin pads, flashy haircuts and sunbeds. By the same token that Grealish is not the Jack the lad his manager, Dean Smith, said he envisaged on taking the job in October, McGinn is much more than just a nagging nuisance in midfield. He was a ubiquitous presence – the bargain of the season at £2.7m from Hibernian – and it was fitting his goal sealed victory.

“Sometimes in football you have to take risks and challenge yourself,” McGinn said. “I think some people had the perception I’m just a runner, just a hard-working player. I think I am that – but I think I’ve got a lot more to my game. I had to come down here and challenge myself against stronger, faster players to show that I can offer a lot more. There are always going to be doubters but hopefully I can show what I can do in the Premier League.”

For Villa fans, proudly rejoicing about “super John McGinn” as the song goes, one that a joyous Smith was singing as his midfielder held court after the match, this is nothing new. Here was yet another near-flawless performance, perhaps best encapsulated by his hounding of Kelle Roos, the Derby goalkeeper, midway through the second half.

McGinn is happy fire-fighting, harrying, inventing, as well as scoring screamers – as typified against Sheffield Wednesday in September. The modest – and menacing – McGinn, signed by Steve Bruce, admitted he feared he might not make the grade after struggling in his first couple of training sessions last August. Ten months on how silly that now seems.

All in all, it proved a hugely satisfying weekend for the McGinn family, given that on Sunday his elder brothers, Stephen and Paul, ensured St Mirren maintained their Scottish Premiership status. McGinn will be Stephen’s best man on Friday and here he was the best man on the pitch.

But it was not just McGinn who came to the fore when his team needed him most, as typified by a well-worked Villa opener. The unfashionable Albert Adomah, who came within hours of returning to Middlesbrough in August, and the 31-year-old Ahmed Elmohamady combined down the right, the latter delivering a wondrous ball towards the back post for Anwar El Ghazi, a lovely, frustrating player capable of the sublime and the ridiculous, to convert.

Until Villa established a two-goal buffer, the worry – once again – was that Grealish, a supremely talented No 10, was trying too hard, cropping up at left-back and holding midfield to pick up possession. Once McGinn had seized on Roos’s error, Grealish could relax, backed up by his teammates, especially Conor Hourihane, the former Plymouth midfielder who has proved a trusty midfield anchor after patiently waiting for his chance.

Then there was Tyrone Mings, a colossus at centre-back who was forced off through injury after making a lung-busting run to prevent Martyn Waghorn from getting a shot on goal.

The composure of Mings and Axel Tuanzebe made Derby’s harum-scarum defending look all the more shaky. “I said to John on the pitch: ‘Keep going, you’re the engine of the team’ and it’s absolutely true,” Mings said.

“He has such a great desire, so when you have a player like that it is easy to go and back him up when you see how he’s working for you.”

Grealish’s influence on Villa cannot be overstated – no one is more deserving of a Premier League stage – especially given how he shone during an end-of-season run that now translates to two defeats in 16 matches, including a 10-match winning run, but others did the damage here. With McGinn’s tireless midfield energy, Villa always seemed shatterproof.
*BBC Sport*
Monday, 27 May 2019

*Christian Purslow: Aston Villa recruited poorly prior to promotion season, says CEO*

*Chief executive Christian Purslow says promoted Aston Villa are ahead of schedule after “a period of poor management” by previous regimes.*

Following Villa’s return to the Premier League three years on from being relegated, Purslow told BBC Radio 4: “We must make sure we do things right.

“I am pleasantly surprised. We are a little bit ahead of target in terms of getting promotion.

“We’ve had a period of poor management at the club,” he continued.

“On the recruitment side in particular, things have not been handled as I think they should be in the way our fans expect, which is for us to be a young exciting team and a team that over time establishes itself back in the Premier League.

“That will be our goal. We have a core of a good team but we need to recruit well this summer and make sure that when we arrive in the Premier League we do our great club justice.”

The first job for the Villa hierarchy, while taking heed of clubs who have overspent upon rising to the top level in the past, will be to address the make-up of a squad bolstered by loan players.

Top scorer Tammy Abraham (Chelsea) and defender Axel Tuanzebe (Manchester United) are both due to return to their respective clubs, but Villa have options to sign both Wolves defender Kortney Hause and Lille midfielder Anwar El Ghazi on a more permanent basis and have a “matching option” in place to keep highly influential Bournemouth defender Tyrone Mings.

They also have seven other out-of contract players to sort. And, aside from the players who won promotion under Dean Smith at Wembley, they have several players brought in by previous managers under previous regimes who simply have not figured, but are still contracted to the club.

Still on the Villa payroll…

*Ross McCormack:*

The Scottish striker still has one more season to run on the four-year deal he signed when he was signed [or £12m from Fulham in August 2016. He is reportedly in line for a rise to £70,000 a week as a result of Villa’s promotion.

He has not played in the Championship for Villa since January 2017 - just days before the infamous story broke that he had not turned up for training as the electronic gates outside of his house would not open. He went out on loan to Nottingham Forest for the rest of that season.

Then in 2017-18, after two early-season Carabao Cup appearances off the bench for Villa, he spent a prolific three months in the Australian A League, scoring 14 goals in as many starts for Melbourne City.

In 2018-19, he returned down under to play for Central Coast Mariners, but played just five times before returning to the UK to join Scottish Premiership side Motherwell, for whom he made four appearances.

*Henri Lansbury:*

The former Arsenal and Nottingham Forest midfielder still has a further two seasons to run on the four-and-a-half-year contract he signed when bought from Forest for a reported £2.75m in January 2017.

Not helped by injury problems, he has made 35 Villa appearances in his two and a half seasons. He started just six league games in 2017-18 and just one in 2018-19, on the final day of the Championship season against another of his former clubs, Norwich City.

*Micah Richards:*

The England international signed a four-year deal in June 2015 following the expiry of his contract with Manchester City.

He made the last of his 31 Villa appearances in October 2016, Steve Bruce’s first game in charge, and he has not figured at all under Smith. His contract is due to expire at the end of June, when it is expected that he will leave the club.

*Scott Hogan:*

After being signed from Brentford in the January 2017 transfer window, like Lansbury, he too still has two years left on his contract.

Injuries have restricted him to just 10 goals in 60 appearances, almost half of which have been as sub.

He failed to score in seven appearances for Smith before his old Bees boss allowed him to join Sheffield United in January, with whom he won promotion. scoring twice in eight games.

*Contracts up this summer*

Goalkeepers Jed Steer and Mark Bunn, defenders Tommy Elphick and Alan Hutton, midfielders Mile Jedinak and Glenn Whelan, plus winger Andre Green.

Play-offs not good for the blood pressure

Villa’s promotion seemed a long shot last summer when, after a period of serious financial uncertainty, they were taken over just a fortnight before the new season started by billionaire businessmen Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris.

It seemed even less likely when they were 15th before Smith took charge in October following the sacking of Bruce.

But there was a late-season transformation in performances and results, once prize asset Jack Grealish returned from his three-month injury lay-off, and Villa went on their club-record 10-match winning run.

“Quite quickly we were able to establish a new team at the club,” said Purslow, who was appointed on the final day of the August transfer window. “Certainly after Christmas, it became clear that the team were really gelling.

“We won 10 games in a row and during that run I started to believe we had a really good chance.

“The knockout play-off format is not one for keeping the blood pressure low, but we came through in the end.”

How will Villa spend the money?

Villa, founder members of the Premier League, came second in its first season in 1992-93, genuine title challengers until they fell away late on to finish 10 points behind inaugural champions Manchester United.

In the 23 seasons that followed before relegation in 2016, they never finished higher than fourth (under Brian Little in 1995-96), although they made the top six on seven occasions, most recently under Martin O’Neill in three successive seasons between 2007 and 2010.

They will go back up in the knowledge that, of the past five Championship play-off final winners, four have come straight back down again - and the exception, Huddersfield Town, lasted only a year longer in the top flight.

The estimated increase in revenue that promotion to English football’s top flight is worth has now risen to £170m - and Villa are keen to cement their place back in the big time, where the seven-time league champions and 1982 European Cup winners feel they belong.

But the one thing that former Liverpool managing director and Chelsea head of global commercial activities Purslow guarantees is that they will not be spending it all at once.

“That figure that gets bandied about is really the cumulative revenues over three or four years, even if a team only manages to stay up for one year,” he said.

“Yes, the television money from the Premier League which is phenomenally successful at selling rights around the world to broadcasters means we means we have more income.

“But as in any walk of life you have to spend your income well and sensibly.

“It doesn’t guarantee anything and I can assure Villa fans we will try to do it the right way.”