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Aston Villa can become Champions League regulars, says former boss Smith

Unai Emery has guided Aston Villa back into the Champions League/European Cup for the first time since 1982-83

Unai Emery

Former Aston Villa boss Dean Smith believes the club can become a permanent fixture in the Champions League having secured a place in Europe’s elite club competition for next season.

Villa’s fourth-placed finish was confirmed on Tuesday night when closest challengers Tottenham went down 2-0 at home to title-chasing Manchester City.

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And Smith, who guided Villa back into the top flight in 2019 during a three-year spell in charge, is confident it heralds a new era at the club.

He told the BBC: “I believe it will because of the owners’ passion and drive to become one of those teams who can be a top-six team every year.

“I remember when I first went for talks with Suso, Christian Purslow and the owners and there was a five-year plan to get into the Champions League.

“This is the fifth year and their plan has come to fruition. The owners had a vision, had to spend for what they wanted to do and going from the Championship to the Champions League in five years is an incredible achievement.”

Smith is not surprised by their progress given the foundations he helped put in place.

He added: “I believed it was achievable. I said when we were promoted the next step was to stay up, and once we did, we spent our money really well, we brought in Ollie Watkins, Matty Cash, Bertrand Traore and Ross Barkley on loan.

“I always felt, after finishing 17th in that first year [back in the Premier League], climbing six or seven places would be really achievable which is what we did. 

“The next step of climbing two or three places was going to be hard because you were trying to pass established clubs.

“You were always going to have to overtake one of them to get to that elite level. Unai [Emery] has done unbelievably well.”

Smith is currently with Charlotte FC in MLS.

Picture of Jon Fisher

Jon Fisher

Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.