Family life and lower league experience keeps me grounded – Villa boss Smith

An unruffled Dean Smith insists his “two kids and a dog” are keeping him grounded in the face of Aston Villa’s Premier League relegation battle.

Smith also has to remind himself of how far he has come in the English game in a short period of time, notably claiming he had to work out the National Insurance of his players during his time at Walsall earlier this decade to ensure he stayed within budget.

Such basics ensure Smith is remaining calm despite Villa’s run of five defeats in the past seven league games going into Saturday’s trip to Sheffield United, with the club only out of the bottom three on goal difference.

Addressing the apparent pressure he is under, Smith said: “I think my upbringing as an assistant at Leyton Orient with Martin Ling, and then at Walsall (from 2011-15) has helped.

“I don’t have to work out the players’ National Insurance here, that is for sure. I am not dealing with the budget as I did then. You get 20 players and you have to fit them into that budget.

“That is why my hat goes off to those lower-league coaches and managers that are upcoming. For me it is an education. It has certainly educated and helped me for the challenges I face now.

“I am dealing with players, something I am very good at. Coaching is what I love, so part of that certainly helps me with the upbringing I have had and the pressures I had to deal with earlier in my career.”

Villa’s five most recent defeats have all been against sides currently in the top six in Liverpool, Leicester, Manchester City, Chelsea and Wolves.

In many respects, Smith is unconcerned when he views the league, insisting family life helps him put Villa’s current situation in perspective.

“Having two kids and a dog keeps me grounded,” stated Smith. “We all have lives outside of football.

“Sometimes it (the game) can be the be-all and end-all to people. But we still go home and have families we have to make decisions about, where we send them to college and stuff like that.”

It is why Smith claims there is also “never a sense of panic”. He added: “You can always look at a situation and take things out of it that you need to improve on. If you improve on those small bits then you get change.

“The players have never seen me jumping for joy, apart from probably at Wembley (Villa’s 2-1 win over Derby in May in the play-off final), or down at the bottom when we get beaten by Leicester.

“I’ll have a couple of words now and again but I can’t change that result, I can’t change that performance. All I can do is work towards the next one. I was always taught that by my dad, it’s always what you do next.”

Centre-back Tyrone Mings misses the trip to Bramall Lane with a hamstring injury, although left-back Matt Targett is available after limping out of the defeat to Leicester with a knock.