By Graham Hill
THE boot might easily have been on the other foot for Dean Smith in the Play-offs.
And that would have been a totally different scenario for Villa.
Twelve months ago, West Brom were on the lookout for a permanent manager.
Darren Moore had salvaged some pride at The Hawthorns with Albion picking up form under their former defender following Alan Pardew’s sacking.
Baggies managed to avoid finishing bottom in a season where relegation had been on the card for some time.
But once the season was over, with Baggies facing a return to the Championship, the search began for someone to lead them into the new campaign.
And with Smith impressing at Brentford, he was immediately being installed as one of the favourites.
In fact, anyone suggesting Smith would be the man to move into the job was not being told otherwise.
But then something unexpected happened and there was a huge swing in favour of Moore.
Apparently, Albion’s Chinese owner Guochuan Lai was more than impressed with the job Moore did towards the back end of last season.
He united the players and got results. And that was enough to edge Smith out of the reckoning.
The rest is history. Moore took on the role of No1 at Albion but was sacked with Baggies fourth in the table. And they will go into the Play-offs still looking for a permanent manager.
Jimmy Shan will lead them against Villa after Baggies failed to enitice Slavisa Jokanovic or Alex Neil.
Meantime, Smith took over at Villa when Steve Bruce was sacked in October.
He may not have been first choice as some high-profile names came and went.
And, after a shaky period of results, Villa fans will be glad they have Smith in the dug-out after he inspired their dash to the Play-offs.
If he carries on the good work, Holte Enders could be signing his name all the way to the Premier League.