Dean Smith (footballer, born 1971)
Smith in March 2011
|Full name||Dean Smith|
|Date of birth||19 March 1971|
|Place of birth||West Bromwich, England|
|Height||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Playing position||Centre back|
|Aston Villa (manager)|
|* Senior club appearances and goals counted for the domestic league only|
Starting his playing career with Walsall in 1989, over the course of five years he played 166 league and cup games. After signing for Hereford United in 1994, three years and 146 appearances later he moved on to Leyton Orient. In six years with Orient he made 309 appearances in all competitions, before earning a move to Sheffield Wednesday in 2003. After a season with Wednesday he moved on to Port Vale, retiring in January 2005. He scored 54 goals in 566 league games in a 16-year career in the English Football League.
Returning to Leyton Orient, he worked as assistant manager until January 2009. In July 2009, he was appointed as Head of Youth at Walsall, before taking the management reins in January 2011. He took Walsall from the relegation zone to safety in his first four months in charge. He took Walsall to the 2015 final of the League Trophy, before leaving the club to manage Brentford in November 2015. He was appointed as Aston Villa manager in October 2018.
Smith started his playing career at Walsall, as the club suffered relegation from the Third Division in 1989–90 under John Barnwell's stewardship. They then struggled to adapt to life in the Fourth Division under new manager Kenny Hibbitt, finishing 16th in 1990–91 and 15th in 1991–92. The "Saddlers" qualified for the play-offs with a fifth-place finish in 1992–93, but were badly beaten by Crewe Alexandra at the semi-final stage. Walsall finished tenth in 1993–94, and Smith left the club, having played a total of 166 games for the "Saddlers", scoring two goals.
In summer 1994, Smith was sold to Hereford United for £80,000, a club record fee for the "Bulls". They finished 16th in the Third Division in 1994–95 under John Layton. Smith was Graham Turner's captain at Edgar Street during the club's rise to the Third Division play-offs in 1995–96, where they were beaten by 4–2 Darlington at the semi-final stage, despite Smith opening the scoring just two minutes into the first leg.
Hereford were relegated from the English Football League after finishing in last place in 1996–97; they had been level on points with Brighton & Hove and with a superior goal difference, however goals scored was the decider and Brighton scored three more than Hereford over the course of the campaign. Smith scored 26 goals in 146 appearances in all competitions during his time at Edgar Street.
Smith signed with Tommy Taylor's Leyton Orient in August 1997, with a tribunal setting the fee at £42,500. He scored ten goals in 51 games in 1997–98; Orient would have finished one point outside the Third Division play-offs had they not been deducted three points. He captained Orient to the play-offs in 1998–99, and converted a penalty in the shoot-out victory over Rotherham United at the semi-final stage. However his team were beaten 1–0 by Scunthorpe United in the Wembley final. Over the course of the campaign he scored ten goals in 49 appearances.
Orient then struggled in 1999–2000, finishing in the bottom half of the table. Smith was again a key player, scoring six goals in 50 appearances. Following a fifth-place finish in 2000–01, he again captained the "O's" to the play-off final in 2001, this time at the Millennium Stadium. Despite twice taking the lead against Blackpool, they lost the match 4–2. Over the course of the season he scored five goals in 54 games.
He scored four goals in 51 games in 2001–02, but Paul Brush's team struggled and finished in mid-table, closer to the relegation zone than the play-offs, though they were 16 points above the drop. Smith continued to feature heavily in the 2002–03 campaign, though he left the club in mid-season. He had played 309 games for the club in all competitions, scoring 43 goals.
Sheffield Wednesday and Port Vale
He joined First Division side Sheffield Wednesday in February 2003, then managed by Chris Turner. The "Owls" were relegated at the end of the season, having finished in 22nd place, four points below Stoke City. He was appointed club captain in the summer, however Wednesday struggled in the Second Division and finished just three points above relegated Grimsby Town. Smith played 48 games in 2003–04, scoring one goal. The club then had a clear out of personnel, and Smith was one of 13 players to depart Hillsborough. He had scored one goal in 62 appearances for Wednesday.
In July 2004, he signed for Martin Foyle's Port Vale. He played 13 League One games and two cup games for the "Valiants" in 2004–05, before he ended his playing days in January 2005 when he left Vale Park to become youth team coach at his old club Leyton Orient.
After working as a youth coach at Leyton Orient from January 2005, Smith was promoted to the role of assistant manager toward the end of the 2004–05 season. He attained his UEFA Pro Licence in 2008, alongside classmates such as Roy Keane, Brendan Rodgers, and Ian McParland. After a poor run of form, Smith left Orient in January 2009, along with long serving manager Martin Ling.
In July 2009, Smith returned to his first club, Walsall, in the role of Head of Youth.
Smith was appointed caretaker manager of Walsall on 4 January 2011, following the dismissal of Chris Hutchings. Seventeen days later he was announced as permanent manager of the club until the end of the season. Taking over managerial duties with his side nine points adrift at the foot of League One, Smith managed to steer Walsall out of the drop zone before the season's end. On 29 January, the "Saddlers" recorded their best league result since 1986 by beating Bristol Rovers 6–1, in what was Smith's first win in charge; the three points also took Walsall off the foot of the table, though they were still seven points short of safety. His team made up the difference over February, and a 1–0 win over promotion chasing Southampton on 1 March saw Walsall climb out of the relegation zone for the first time since October. They ended the season one point clear of Dagenham & Redbridge in the drop zone.
He let fourteen players go in summer 2011, including: Darren Byfield, Jonny Brain, Clayton McDonald, Paul Marshall, Matt Richards, Steve Jones, Aaron Lescott, David Bevan, Julian Gray, and Tom Williams. He then signed goalkeeper Dávid Gróf; defenders Mat Sadler and Lee Beevers; midfielders Kevan Hurst, Claude Gnakpa, Adam Chambers, and Anton Peterlin; and striker Ryan Jarvis. Also during the campaign he boosted his squad with loan signings Dave Martin, Mark Wilson, Andy Halliday, and Florent Cuvelier. His side lost just one of their first five league games, but then picked up just three points from their next seven games. They beat Preston North End on 15 October, but then picked up just four points from their next eight games. From 26 November, they were beaten just once in nine matches, but became the division's draw specialists as seven of these nine games finished level. They finished the campaign in 19th place, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
In summer 2012, he offered professional contracts to youth team players Malvind Benning, Ben George, Aaron Williams and Kieron Morris. He continued to add promising young players by bringing in 21-year-old winger Ashley Hemmings, 19-year-old former loanee Florent Cuvelier, 19-year-old winger James Baxendale, 20-year-old defender Paul Downing, 19-year-old striker Connor Taylor, 23-year-old striker Febian Brandy, in addition to 32-year-old right-back Dean Holden. He also brought in full-back James Chambers, twin brother of Adam Chambers. He also brought in a number of players on loan, including: Karl Darlow (21), Sam Mantom (20), Aaron McCarey (20), and Craig Westcarr (27). Mantom was made into a permanent signing in January. Smith signed a new two-and-a-half-year contract in October, keeping him at the club until summer 2015. This came after the club announced a £10,000 profit on the previous campaign as Smith's 'Total Football' approach yielded a mid-table position for the young Walsall team, in addition to praise from pundits and fans. A poor run of results saw the team slip to just above the relegation zone in mid-December. Walsall recovered to win four of their five games in January, as Smith was named as Manager of the Month. They ended the season in ninth place, six points outside the play-offs.
During a fine start to the 2013–14 season, Smith, affectionately nicknamed "Ginger Mourinho" by the Walsall fans, took the club to an unlikely promotion push. He masterminded a win at Molineux against local "Black Country" rivals, Wolverhampton Wanderers, and also ended winning streaks by table-toppers Leyton Orient and Brentford. The club could not sustain their promotion push however, and ended the campaign in 13th place. Smith released top-scorer Craig Westcarr at the end of the season, along with Troy Hewitt, Nicky Featherstone, James McQuilkin, and Shane Lewis.
He took Walsall to the 2015 final of the League Trophy, a 2–0 defeat to Bristol City, which was Walsall's first appearance at Wembley Stadium. At the end of the 2014–15 season he largely kept his squad together, the most high-profile player to be released being Ben Purkiss. Walsall started the 2015–16 season well, with Smith being named as League One Manager of the Month for August 2015 as the club ended the month at the top of the table. Walsall rejected an approach for Smith from Rotherham United in October, describing him as "fundamental to our future plans". Smith signed a new 12-month rolling contract on 16 October. However six weeks later he left Walsall for Brentford with the "Saddlers" fourth in the table; at the time of his departure he was the fourth longest serving manager in the Football League.
Smith was appointed manager of Championship club Brentford on 30 November 2015. Brentford finished the 2015–16 season in ninth place, during which time Smith sold Toumani Diagouraga and James Tarkowski for a combined £3.6 million. In building for the 2016–17 season Smith signed 18 players, including Romaine Sawyers (free transfer) and Rico Henry (£1.5 million) from previous club Walsall. The "Bees" finished the season in tenth place, and Smith said he wanted to bring in more players in order to push for the play-offs the following season. He signed a new one-year contract extension in February 2018. Brentford finished the 2017–18 season in ninth-place and were "widely regarded as the Championship's entertainers" after Smith built an attracting passing style of play on a shoestring budget.
|Hereford United||1994–95||Third Division||35||3||2||0||8||1||45||4|
|Leyton Orient||1997–98||Third Division||43||9||2||1||6||0||51||10|
|Sheffield Wednesday||2002–03||First Division||14||0||0||0||0||0||14||0|
|Port Vale||2004–05||League One||13||0||0||0||2||1||15||1|
- As of match played 6 October 2018
|Walsall||4 January 2011||30 November 2015||260||84||96||80||32.31|||
|Brentford||30 November 2015||10 October 2018||143||57||35||51||39.86|||
|Aston Villa||10 October 2018||Present||0||0||0||0||—|
- as Walsall manager
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- Dean Smith at the English National Football Archive (subscription required)
- Dean Smith management career statistics at Soccerbase