Aston Villa fires manager Dean Smith after 5-game losing run

BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) — Aston Villa fired manager Dean Smith with the team mired in a five-match losing run.

The Premier League club made the announcement on Sunday. Smith, who guided the club back to the top flight, has paid the price for the team’s disappointing form this season.

Friday’s 1-0 defeat at Southampton proved the last act for Smith, that result leaving Villa with just 10 points from their opening 11 games and just two points clear of the relegation zone.

Villa chief executive Christian Purslow said in a statement on the club’s website: “This year we have not seen the continuous improvement in results, performances and league position which we have all been looking for.

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

Former Brentford manager Smith took charge with the club 15th in the Championship in October 2018.

He led the club to promotion via the play-offs in his first season and then went on to keep them in the Premier League, and reach the Carabao Cup final, the following year.

They finished 11th last season but lost star player Jack Grealish to Manchester City in the summer.

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

“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 – our staff, players and supporters alike.

“We wish him the very best.”

Following the news, Grealish tweeted: “No1 will ever compare, the real goat (greatest of all time).”

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