By Graham Hill
VILLA boss Dean Smith has admitted his challenge has always been to win promotion to the Premier League.
But he has already begun the mind games ahead of Saturday’s first leg Championship play-off semi final clash with West Brom – by insisting Baggies are favourites to get to Wembley.
When Smith took over at Villa Park after Steve Bruce’s sacking, there seemed to be minimal pressure on the new boss to take Villa back up.
And with Villa languishing in mid-table back in February, it seemed as though Smith was already building for next season.
But with Villa winning 10 games in succession to gatecrash the play-offs, suddenly the focus is back on Smith.
And he admits that promotion has always been in his thoughts.
Smith told the club’s official TV channel: “That was the challenge when I came in here.
“Unfortunately we didn’t get near the top two, but managed to get into the Play-Offs. That’s the route we have to go down now.
“They’re two difficult games. I know there’s a lot of people out there saying we’re favourites, but Albion have been above us all season.
“They’re the ones who came down from the Premier League and have those players in their squad. We haven’t beaten them this year, either. For me, they’re the favourites and it’s about us trying to spoil their party.”