Dean Smith was always the standout candidate for the Aston Villa job and on Saturday, he gave the clearest indication yet of why exactly that was.
The former Brentford boss’ reign with his boyhood club belatedly got its real kickstart against Frank Lampard’s side, who have been widely praised lately as Villa marched to a 3-0 win.
The two clubs have enjoyed differing seasons, but Villa are now just four points behind the side they overcame so easily on Saturday.
They must now set their sights on a play-off spot, as there is no reason why they cannot go on and join the leading group of sides in one of the tightest Championship seasons of all-time.
Where Steve Bruce was building a side heavily reliant on experience but lacking in pace and attacking invention, Smith is already bringing the attractive football that characterised his Brentford sides.
In Tammy Abraham, Jack Grealish and Jonathan Kodjia, he has attacking options capable of scaring any side in the second tier, backed up by the very impressive central midfield duo of Conor Hourihane and John McGinn.
Having Axel Tuanzebe at the back instead of John Terry allows Smith to play a higher line and get on the front more and the fans will love the increased attacking intent.
Smith has belatedly kickstarted Villa’s season and now they have to be looking up the league.