Aston Villa manager Dean Smith


Noel Whelan has hailed “incredible” Dean Smith as the architect of Aston Villa’s stunning transformation which has put them in sight of a Premier League return.

Speaking exclusively to Football Insider, the former Leeds United and Coventry City striker claimed Smith has inspired the revival at Villa Park through shrewd management.

Villa have won eight consecutive Championship matches to climb to fifth in the division and well placed to secure one of the four places in the end-of-season play-offs.

“It’s an incredible turnaround and the man who deserves most credit is Dean Smith,” Whelan said. “He was under a lot of pressure when he came in, but he changed the formation, the style of play, everything, and the fruits of his labour are now being reaped.

“Yes, the players have been fantastic, but you have to give huge credit to the manager. There are a lot of big personalities in that dressing room, and huge egos, and Smith has won them over and got them working towards one goal.

“To win eight games in a row is amazing, and no team will want to face them in the play-offs.”

Villa have 69 points from 41 matches, which gives them a five-point cushion over Middlesbrough in seventh position.

Smith’s side are next in action on Good Friday, when they travel to Bolton Wanderers, who are 23rd in the Championship.

In other Aston Villa news, it can be the REVEALED that the club are readying a £30million move for a Villa player after jetting in for a transfer mission.