Aston Villa sack manager Smith after five straight defeats

Aston Villa manager Dean Smith during the Pre-Season Friendly between Bristol City and Aston Villa at Ashton Gate on July 31, 2021 in Bristol, England.

Aston Villa have sacked manager Dean Smith after three years in charge.

Smith, 50, leaves following Villa's 1-0 defeat by Southampton on Friday, the club's fifth successive defeat in the Premier League.

Villa are 17th in the league, two points above the relegation zone.

"This year we have not seen the continuous improvement in results, performances and league position which we have all been looking for," Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said.

"For this reason we have decided to make a change now to allow time for a new head coach to make an impact."

Villa say the process to replace Smith has started but they will not rush into an immediate appointment - however, it is understood that Denmark coach Kasper Hjulmand is a name of interest to the club and is admired by fellow countryman, Villa's sporting director Johan Lange.

Hjulmand guided Denmark to the Euro 2020 semi-final, when they lost to England at Wembley, and the 49-year-old has a growing reputation.

Other names are also under consideration, with Villa using the time afforded to them by the international break to home in on Smith's successor.

Smith was appointed Villa manager in October 2018, guiding them to promotion from the Championship in his first season in charge.

Though they struggled in their first season in the top flight, narrowly avoiding relegation, Smith led the club to the 2019-20 Carabao Cup final.

Dean Smith, Manager of Aston Villa looks dejected during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at Etihad Stadium on January 20, 2021 in Manchester, England.

The 2020-21 season saw Villa achieve an 11th-place finish in the Premier League, but after the departure of star player Jack Grealish to Manchester City in the summer, results started to slip.

The club have not won since they defeated Manchester United on 25 September, picking up just 10 points from the first 11 games of the season.

It is their worst losing run since January to February 2017 in the Championship.

Smith leaves the club having won 28 of his 87 Premier League games in charge (32.2%) and with an overall win rate of 39.6% from his 139 games.

Smith is the fifth managerial change in the top flight this season with Tottenham sacking Nuno Espirito Santo on Monday and Norwich dismissing Daniel Farke late on Saturday.

Watford sacked Xisco Munoz in October, while Steve Bruce left his role as Newcastle manager by mutual consent on 20 October.

There were just four managerial changes in the whole of last season.

"The board would like to sincerely thank Dean for his many excellent achievements, on and off the pitch, during this time," added Purslow.

"Everyone knows how much Aston Villa means to Dean and his family. He has represented the club with distinction and dignity - universally liked and respected by everybody associated with Aston Villa."

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