A real Aston Villa love affair as Cristiano Ronaldo struggle showcases Dean Smith's brilliance

Kortney Hause’s bullet header, Bruno Fernandes’ stoppage-time miss, breaking a 12-year hoodoo, Dean Smith’s punch towards the jubilant away end, Emi Martinez’s Cristiano Ronaldo mind games and much, much more.

Villa’s win at Old Trafford had everything as the joyous Villa players celebrated with the 3,000 travelling fans, including Smith’s beaming mum Hilary who was smiling from ear-to-ear at full-time.

BirminghamLive’s Aston Villa writer Ashley Preece is still smiling now as he talks us through the big talking points after a fine – and much-deserved – 1-0 win over Manchester United.


That victory was a big one. A big one knowing just how far Villa have come under the gaffer, Smith, who nailed his Old Trafford game plan as Cristiano Ronaldo and United’s superstars were kept quiet.

Mauling Liverpool, beating Arsenal, Spurs and Chelsea last season, Villa are back competing and beating the so-called big dogs with a sweet, sweet three points at Man United.

“This club has suffered for too long,” Smith said in his post-match, knowing just how desperate the boss is to catapult Aston Villa back amongst the elite.

“The seeds of belief were sown at Chelsea the other week,” Smith added, with his group of players knowing they can beat anyone in the Premier League.

The manager deserves immense credit for pushing on once again – that’s despite losing a £100million player. This Villa squad is miles better than it was last season. The players have improved tenfold while the new additions have given Villa a different dimension, whether it’s Danny Ings up front or the exciting Leon Bailey who’s played just 85 minutes.

But what about the manager himself, Smith, who’s not even three years into the job at Villa. The boss proved once more that he’s amongst the shrewdest operators in the game, a manager who’s making a real name for himself in the Premier League now.

Smith deserves a huge pat on the back. He doesn’t get the plaudits – or respect – he truly deserves at times. He’s transformed Villa completely. It’s continual progress and that, in itself, is exciting.

READ: Our player ratings for Villa in Old Trafford win

READ: The live coverage as Villa end United hoodoo


To the team here and Smith’s built a culture that has made the Villa faithful simply fall in love with this group of players.

It’s all about the team now, the team shift where perhaps it wasn’t before.

You had Bailey cheering Villa’s every move from home on Saturday as he watched via his laptop. Douglas Luiz was in stitches at Fernandes fluffing his penalty. The scenes in the corner at full-time were just brilliant to see as John McGinn, Tyrone Mings and those in white shirts hugged, kissed and applauded the Villa support.

The Villa squad is such a likeable group of players and there’s nothing better than that of a proper team shift as we witnessed at Old Trafford.

Team spirit counts for an awful lot and Smith’s Villa have bags and bags of it which can only bode well from now until May.

Make sure you get your fix of all things Villa delivered straight to your inbox every day by signing up to our newsletter here.


To the crooks of Villa’s victory now and a tip of the hat to Austin MacPhee. The Scot was an animated figure from the warm-up until full-time. The specialist set-piece coach dragged the likes of Ings and McGinn out of the warm-up while ushered pointers to Villa’s centre-backs.

It was no surprise then that Hause powered home from a set play as Douglas Luiz whipped it with venom towards David De Gea before Hause peeled off Edinson Cavani to bang it home.

Villa are such a dangerous side from set-plays now, with every throw-in, free-kick and corner all purposeful. United hadn’t conceded from a set-piece prior to Villa’s win which made it all the more funnier. What a job MacPhee is doing.


“I thought we were aggressive and brave against a front four of Ronaldo, Pogba, Fernandes and Greenwood and we stood resolute,” Smith beamed afterwards.

That’s some foursome, by the way, with Mings, Konsa and Hause saying, ‘Not today, lads’ with a brave showing.

The defending was incredible. The trio made 10 clearances, blocked nine shots and made six key interceptions. Ronaldo didn’t even muster a shot on target.

It was a shutout of the highest order and Smith was quick to heap praise on his back three at Old Trafford.

“I’ve got a back three and Axel who wasn’t playing today who are all good in the air, athletic and very rarely get beat in one-vs-one situations,” he said.

There’s not too many teams who boast a better calibre of centre-backs than Villa’s at present.

A word also for Martinez who’s work against United perhaps went unnoticed. Winding-up antics aside, Martinez was equal to everything. He was immaculate but it was his positioning that stood out. United were put through on numerous occasions but Martinez mopped up the danger as he played high behind Villa’s back three.

I spotted goalkeeping coach Neil Cutler afterwards and he’s another one, like Smith and MacPhee, who deserve praise. I was quick to congratulate Cutler who’s intricate work with Martinez and the goalkeepers can perhaps go unnoticed.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related


Enforce Plan B immediately or risk winter crisis, NHS boss warns ministers

Ministers must immediately enforce “Plan B” coronavirus restrictions or “risk stumbling into a winter crisis”, an NHS leader has warned. Amid rising Covid-19 cases, Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the ... Read more »

Late Jeffrey Epstein tells Steve Bannon, ‘I'm a supporter of Time's Up'

The late pedophile Jeffrey Epstein stunningly claims in an upcoming documentary that he was a “firm believer and supporter” of the anti-sexual harassment Time’s Up movement. During one of the ... Read more »

Coal report on Albertans' views to be delayed one month, says panel chairman

EDMONTON — A report detailing how Albertans feel about open-pit coal mining in the Rockies will be delayed by a month, says the head of the committee preparing the document. ... Read more »

Schwere Aufsichtsrechtsverletzungen der CS in Beschattungsaffäre

© KEYSTONE/ENNIO LEANZA Die Eidgenössische Finanzmarktaufsicht Finma haut der Credit Suisse in der Beschattungsaffäre auf die Finger: Die Grossbank habe schwere Aufsichtsrechtsverletzungen begangen, teilte die Finma mit. Bei der CS ... Read more »

NHS services hit with delays of up to six hours as paramedic warns of lengthy waits for ambulances this winter

People suffering from heart attacks or strokes could be hit the hardest by the long delays, with reports of ambulances with patients queuing outside hospitals. Read more »

Pep Guardiola has no intention of rushing Cole Palmer despite cameo in Man City win

© PA Wire Cole Palmer, centre, scored in City’s win (Virginie Lefour/PA) – PA Wire Pep Guardiola has no intention of rushing teenager Cole Palmer following his outstanding cameo in ... Read more »

Arendal: 28-year-old man who shot three people at a party charged with attempted murder

A 28-year-old man from Arendal has been charged with violence, driving under the influence, illegal possession of a weapon, and attempted murder of three people. In June 2020, the then ... Read more »

UAE races ahead with exemplary Covid strategy

© Provided by Khaleej Times UAE races ahead with exemplary Covid strategy As the world struggles – both economically and socially – to come to terms with future strategies that ... Read more »

Asian stocks higher as investors watch corporate earnings

Hong Kong Financial Markets (Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.) Asian stock markets followed Wall Street higher as investors waited for U.S. corporate results Tuesday to see how ... Read more »

Timonium hacker stole crypto, scammed influencers and avoided the feds — until he crossed his partners

In the summer of 2019, the father of 20-year-old Jordan K. Milleson got a phone call. The person on the other line told him that his son was a hacker ... Read more »

The technologies that could bring America to net zero emissions by 2050

The newest section of a project from Third Way, the Bipartisan Policy Project and Clean Air Task Force examines how energy breakthroughs could accelerate America's transition to reach net zero ... Read more »

Searchers looking for missing teen find dead body, reports say

Police searching for a missing teenager found a dead body Tuesday in Miramar, reports say. The unidentified body was found near Miramar Boulevard and South University Drive, WFOR-Ch. 4 reported. ... Read more »

Here are all the Dragonmancer skins coming to League of Legends in Patch 11.21

© Provided by Dot Esports League of Legends Patch 11.21 will introduce seven new skins to the game, each from the previously announced Dragonmancer skin line. The release will feature ... Read more »

Australia PM: Technology best way to achieve climate target

Australia Climate Change (AAPIMAGE) A net zero carbon emissions target by 2050 would be a “great positive” for Australia if it can be achieved through technology and not a carbon ... Read more »

Stock market news live updates: Strong earnings push stocks higher, S&P 500 ends with 5th straight day of gains

Stocks advanced on Tuesday as investors digested a slew of new earnings results that topped Wall Street's expectations, suggesting more companies were able to work through ongoing supply chain challenges ... Read more »

How to find the Sharkbite rifle in Far Cry 6

© Provided by GamePur The Sharkbite is one of the unique weapons you can find throughout Far Cry 6. Like most other unique weapons, it is hidden somewhere and you ... Read more »

Ghari gets dearer, thanks to hike in prices of dry fruits

© Provided by The Indian Express Surat residents will have to spend Rs 40 more per kilogram for ghari during the Chandi Padva festival this year as prices of dry ... Read more »

Delhi: Illegal colonies, construction sites, schools key mosquito breeding hotspots

© Provided by The Indian Express Schools, unauthorised colonies and construction sites are key hotspots for mosquito breeding conditions in South Delhi, which has reported the most dengue cases among ... Read more »

Six months after peaking over 56,000, active cases in city drop below 1,000

© Provided by The Indian Express The number of active Covid-19 cases in Pune city dropped below 1,000 after months, with PMC areas reporting 994 such cases in total on ... Read more »

Kawhi Leonard could return to Clippers before playoffs?

Even though uncertainty continues to loom over Kawhi Leonard’s ACL injury recovery, the LA Clippers may have plenty of reason to be optimistic. © Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports Kawhi Leonard ... Read more »

What did Ben Simmons say to get suspended?

Breaking down what Ben Simmons said and did to earn a one-game suspension from the Philadelphia 76ers.  © Provided by Fansided On Tuesday, the Ben Simmons situation came to something of ... Read more »

Jurgen Klopp sends message to Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone after handshake snub

Jurgen Klopp declared he will “definitely” shake hands with Diego Simeone next time they meet despite the Atletico Madrid manager ignoring the post-match pleasantries on Tuesday night. Simeone dashed down ... Read more »

Ruben Loftus-Cheek reveals what Thomas Tuchel told him before Brentford win

© Provided by Metro Ruben Loftus-Cheek has started both of Chelsea’s last two Premier League matches (Picture: Getty) Ruben Loftus-Cheek has revealed that Thomas Tuchel told him to ‘be strong ... Read more »

Deandre Ayton Reportedly Refusing To Speak With The Media

Deandre Ayton’s consistently-solid production as a post presence and anchor down low played a massive part in the Suns’ surprise trip to the NBA Finals this past season. Yet, the ... Read more »

Family of four seriously hurt as explosion destroys house in Ayr

A family of four were in a serious condition in hospital on Tuesday after a suspected gas explosion destroyed their home in Ayr. © Katielee Arrowsmith/SWNS An aerial view shows ... Read more »

MPs are warned of up to 18% on our bills as petrol cost soars

© Provided by Daily Mail MailOnline logo Petrol prices have surged to a near-record high amid warnings of an ‘terrifying’ rise in inflation. An average litre of unleaded petrol is now ... Read more »

Lakers Reportedly Make Decision On Starting Lineup

After a busy offseason, that saw the franchise add a plethora of veteran talent, some questions still remained about what the Los Angeles Lakers‘ lineup would look like to start ... Read more »

ESPN's Stephen A. Smith says Warriors will make Western Conference Finals if Klay Thompson returns

ESPN talking head Stephen A. Smith believes the Golden State Warriors are one piece away from championship contention, and that one piece is already on their roster. © Abbie Parr/Getty ... Read more »

SEE IT: Hikers use turbans to rescue men who fell from Canadian waterfall

A group of hikers in British Colombia used quick thinking and what was literally off the top of their heads to rescue two others who had fallen from the trail ... Read more »

Hospital Says Ivermectin-Obsessed Pols ‘Harassed and Threatened' Docs

© Provided by The Daily Beast Office of Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen At least three high-ranking public officials in Montana tried to pressure a hospital to allow a woman ... Read more »

Liverpool Continues to Play as Advertised—for Better or Worse

Liverpool’s attack was still firing vs. Atlético Madrid, but its inconsistency elsewhere is leaving plenty to be desired in its quest to lift trophies once again. View the original article ... Read more »

Black Democratic chair gets lynching threat over Trump essay

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — The first Black chair of Iowa’s Democratic Party says he received a series of racist messages, including a lynching threat, after writing an opinion piece ... Read more »

Jurgen Klopp talks after Diego Simeone dodges handshake in Atletico Madrid v Liverpool

© Provided by NBC Sports Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid was thrilling and anything but straightforward, with the drama continuing after the final whistle at the Wanda Metropolitano. Atleti ... Read more »

Schiff 'vehemently' disagrees with Attorney General Garland's reluctance to pursue Trump

In unusually pointed comments about a member of President Biden’s Cabinet, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Rep. Adam Schiff says he “vehemently” disagrees with Attorney General Merrick Garland’s failure so far ... Read more »

Our infrastructure decisions now define our future climate

Climate change is already impacting communities in every country, across every continent, from rising sea levels and extreme weather events, to disrupted economies, food and water insecurity and conflict. This ... Read more »

Tragic boy, 6, was ‘poisoned' with so much salt he was ‘unable to put up fight' before death

A SIX-YEAR-OLD boy was “poisoned” with so much salt he was rendered “unable to put up a fight” before his death, a court heard. Arthur Labinjo-Hughes had more than six ... Read more »

Why Raiders could owe Jon Gruden $40 million despite resignation

Jon Gruden may have a few more Raiders paychecks on the way. The now ex-Las Vegas coach could still pocket $40 million of his remaining contract, per NFL Network, despite ... Read more »

Darren Aronofsky Loves Receiving Hate Mail For This Divisive Film

Lev Radin/Shutterstock Writer-director Darren Aronofsky now has seven films under his belt, with two more in the works, per Deadline. His first film, the psychological horror “Pi,” came out in ... Read more »

The Real Reason Eternals Features Gender-Swapped Characters

Marvel Studios/Disney When Marvel’s “Eternals” comes out next month, comic book fans are going to notice two big changes about Disney’s newest superhero team, compared to the original source material: ... Read more »

Dementia breakthrough as infrared light therapy could unlock puzzle

In a pilot study, researchers used a helmet beam infrared light into the brains of healthy volunteers. The results showed their memory, motor function and processing skills improved. The research ... Read more »