O’Kelly: How Villa will tackle Prem

By Phil Jennings

VILLA assistant coach Richard O’Kelly says the pressure will be on from the first day of their return to the Premier League.

After three seasons away, a much-changed Villa squad are back in the top flight and preparing for their first game of the season, away to Tottenham.

And despite neither he nor head coach Dean Smith managing in the Premier League before, O’Kelly says they are prepared.

Villa have top level pedigree on board with ex-Chelsea and England captain John Terry.

And O’Kelly says it is a case of adapting to the intensity of Premier League football rather than changing the methods that have taken them there.

O’Kelly told the club’s official website from their US training camp: “In the Premier League we’ll be under pressure, with and without the ball.

“They’ll have to keep a cool head, play forwards at the right time and be compact at the right time.

“Those are things that will stand us in good stead. We have to make sure everything we do has an outcome to it. We’ll be working towards that this week.

“The running stats are probably the main difference, too. They’re higher in the Premier League.

“It’s also a belief from the players in terms of what they’re doing. All the top sides make mistakes, but you don’t realise they do, because of how they react to them.

“They’re so supportive of each other and that’s what we want Aston Villa to be – a forward-thinking, attacking side.”

O’Kelly admits he has had to wait a ‘lifetime’ to coach at this level – but insists he and Smith – along with Terry – will use their know-how to good effect.

He added: said: “The blueprint’s the same. We are what we are.

“Dean Smith is who he is. I am who I am also, as is John Terry and the rest of the coaching staff.

“We all believe in the same thing and that’s why we’re here. We know what we want to do. There’s also really good people here. That’s important.

“On a personal level, it’s the moment I’ve been waiting for all my life. I’ve been coaching 30 years, so it’s taken a while. But I got here eventually!”

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