Portuguese website O Jogo have claimed that Aston Villa are close to replacing manager Dean Smith despite the club avoiding relegation from the Premier League – with former Benfica man Bruno Lage.
Smith’s Villa secured a well-earned point against West Ham on Sunday afternoon – with the Midlands side picking up the all-important point after a 1-1 draw. It saw Bournemouth and Watford relegated, along with Norwich.
Jack Grealish’s 84th-minute opener was quickly cancelled out by Andriy Yarmolenko, but that did not stop the Villans from celebrating. However, Smith may find himself out of a job despite an excellent end to the season.
Lage, 44, is well regarded in Portugal – having won 51 of his 76 Benfica matches in charge before leaving last month. He does have experience in England, having worked as an assistant at Swansea and Sheffield Wednesday – under Carlos Carvalhal.
The report claims Villa are close to confirming Smith’s departure and Lage as his replacement – though it remains to be seen if the claims from Portugal are true.
TBR’s view – Ridiculously harsh, though Lage is a top manager
Smith deserves plenty of praise for rallying the troops and guiding a Villa side that at one point looked beleaguered, and doomed to return to the Championship after just one season. But a win over Arsenal all but saved them.
Lage, meanwhile, is an excellent manager. He is renowned for his faith in youth and his attacking style of play – with Benfica scoring a whopping 181 goals in his 76 matches. Harsh on Smith, but Lage is a promising boss.