Dean Smith: We won’t rest on our achievements at Aston Villa
Dean Smith hopes the best is yet to come as he today celebrates one year in charge at Villa.
The 48-year-old has enjoyed a superb first 12 months at the helm of the club he has supported since childhood, guiding Villa back to the Premier League through the play-offs in May.
Smith admits the 2-1 win over Derby at Wembley is the undoubted highlight of his tenure to date, describing the moment as ‘beyond dreams’.
But the former Walsall boss is determined to kick on as he now looks to establish Villa back in the top flight.
Smith said: “You can’t not have the win at Wembley as the highlight of the year – leading Aston Villa out at Wembley.
“To actually take them back to the Premier League as well – it’s beyond dreams really.
“I have had so many people say to me that it’s the best day they’ve ever had in their lives. It’s touched a lot of people.
“But we’re still building and we still want to get better. We don’t want to see that as the highlight. We want to keep going and move forward.”
Smith, who cites Alan Hutton’s strike in last November’s 4-2 derby win over Blues as his favourite goal, believes his team is continuing to evolve in the Premier League.
Villa, who spent £127million on 12 new players during the summer transfer window, sit 15th in the table after eight matches.
But they entered the international break with a thumping 5-1 win at Norwich, the club’s biggest victory away from home in more than a decade.
“It’s been very, very good,” said Smith. “I am learning along the way. The players are learning. We are all learning about each other.
“There’s a football team that is evolving. I think there’s a club that’s come together. We all pulling in the same direction.
“That’s led by the owners, (chief executive) Christian Purslow and (sporting director) Jesus Garcia Pitarch). They are the ones that set the culture and the values of this football club – and it’s been followed by staff, players and supporters. There’s a great feel about the place.”
He continued: “I think all the players are making gradual improvements. I have been pleased with a lot of what I’ve seen from a young group.
“The most pleasing thing last season was that I came into a club with a lot of experienced internationals here and you never know how they’re going to take to you and your tactics.
“But I was really pleased with how quickly they took on board what we wanted to do – and embraced it.”