Aston Villa v Tottenham preview: Dean Smith and John Terry ready for Jose Mourinho reunion
Much has changed for both Dean Smith and Jose Mourinho since their only previous meeting in management, nearly four-and-a-half years ago.
For one thing, Smith is no longer nicknamed the ‘Ginger Mourinho’.
“I feel my hair is not so ginger now,” quipped Villa’s boss, when asked about the moniker once bestowed on him by Walsall supporters during his time in charge of their club.
It was in September 2015 that Mourinho brought Chelsea, then the reigning Premier League champions, to the Banks’s Stadium for a third round Carabao Cup tie.
The visiting line-up was captained by John Terry, now Smith’s assistant at Villa Park.
“It was a great night, welcoming Chelsea to the Banks’s,” recalls Smith. “We had them wobbling at times, even JT admits that!
“I remember Jimmy O’Connor scored to get it back to 2-1 and we had a little bit of a fightback but the quality they had in that team was quite something.”
Less than three months after that fixture both managers were no longer in post, Smith having left the Saddlers for Brentford while Mourinho was sacked by Chelsea, beginning the journey which would see him take charge at Tottenham following two-and-a-half years at Manchester United.
“It’s how football works sometimes,” said Smith.
“Who could have predicted where we would both be four-and-a-half years down the line?
“Thankfully, I am managing in the Premier League now and managing against him at the top table.”
Mourinho’s team arrive at Villa Park on Sunday looking to keep the pressure on fourth-placed Chelsea after what has been, by their standards, a largely underwhelming campaign.
For Villa and Smith, the focus is on gaining three more points in the fight for survival.
Terry won three Premier League titles during Mourinho’s two spells in charge at Chelsea and Smith acknowledged his presence in the Villa dugout will add a little more spice to the occasion, if only in terms of newspaper headlines.
He added: “For us, it’s just a game of football. Jose’s a top coach as we’ve seen with all of his teams fighting at the top of their respective leagues.
“We’ll have to come up with a plan that can hurt Tottenham. For me Liverpool and Man City are the two outstanding teams in this division and Tottenham just beat Man City 2-0, so we know how tough the game it’ll be.
“John and Jose have got a deep respect for each other. John has been his captain twice at Chelsea and they’ve won a lot of trophies together.
“He has spoken openly about the admiration he has for Jose as a coach and a person when they were at Chelsea. The dynamics are different now. He’s on my bench and he’s sat behind me giving me bits of information that I’ll need. Together we’ll try to plot the downfall of one of his ex-coaches.”
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