Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has explained his philosophy ahead of tomorrow’s clash with Derby County, as reported by Birmingham Live.

Tomorrow will mark the end of Smith’s first month in charge and the 47-year-old has made a mixed start to life in the Midlands. He has guided the club to impressive victories over Swansea City and Bolton Wanderers but has overseen defeats to Norwich City and QPR.

He will face what could arguably be his sternest test so far tomorrow, when the Villains visit fifth-placed Derby County. The Rams have not lost in the league since September, emerging as genuine promotion contenders under the tutelage of former Chelsea midfielder Frank Lampard.

Smith has been quizzed about what he expects from his players ahead of the tie and insists that his philosophy ‘isn’t rocket science’:

“The one thing I want our players to do when they lose the ball is win it back quickly. There’s no rocket science in that.

“The reactions of the players are very important – when we lose it, let’s react quickly and go and get it.

“Barcelona, for example, have always been a passing team – especially when Pep Guardiola was there. But what I liked about his teams was that they were hungry to regain possession very quickly.

“I want the same. It’s important and keeps pressure on the opposition. The lads have worked very hard at it since I’ve been here.”

The club struggled at the beginning of the season when Steve Bruce was in charge, but Smith admits that he hasn’t made wholesale changes on the training ground:

“We’ve not changed an awful lot at the training ground.

“Our sessions are obviously different, with JT (John Terry) having had some himself as well.

“With regard to chasing the ball back, I think the players have enjoyed the work. They can rest more on the ball and have their breather as they’re passing it.

“That’s always a nice feeling for them, because the opposition are chasing it then.”

Smith’s Villa trail tomorrow’s opponents by seven points but will be keen to make a statement with a win over the fifth-placed Rams.


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