Grealish: We’ll turn this around

By Graham Hill

JACK Grealish hailed Villa’s display against Bournemouth on Saturday as ‘brilliant’ .

Villa may have lost the game but they dominated in large spells as they desperately tried to get back on terms with Eddie Howe’s side.

Bournemouth raced into a two goal lead and that is always going to be difficult to pull back at this level.

Skipper Grealish knows Villa have performed well so far – but must learn that any mistakes will be punished more than they would be in the Championship.

And he says Villa cannot wait to try and put things right against Everton on Friday night.

Grealish told Villa’s official website: “The difference between the Premier League and the Championship is that nine times out of ten in this league, you’ll tend to get punished if you make mistakes.

“That was the case in our first two games.

“It’ll come. We will be working hard now ahead of Friday’s game to put things right.

“I thought we were the better team after the bad start. But that’s this league for you. You make mistakes, you get punished. As soon as we cut them out, I am sure we will be fine.

“Overall, I thought we were brilliant. We created plenty of chances. We will go again next Friday.

“We will work hard to put it right. Hopefully we can get Villa Park rocking and get our first win of the season.”

Villa boss: ‘Grealish is all heart’

By Phil Jennings

DEAN Smith says he does not care about Jack Grealish’s ‘heart throb’ lifestyle – as long as he delivers for Villa.

The Villa boss accepts his skipper turns the ladies’ heads and has a swagger that is tailor made for the Premier League.

But Smith also insists Grealish is putting the hours in behind the scenes to turn himself into a top flight star.

Grealish is set to return to Villa Park on Saturday as a Premier League player.

And he says he is the ideal captain – making pals with his team-mates and setting an example towards the players.

That was not always the case with the teenage Grealish – but Smith has seen the midfielder’s determination at close quarters.

The Villa boss told reporters: “I felt Jack looked like a Premier League player playing in the Championship last year.

“You just have to look at his legs now – and I am sure there are probably a lot of girls out there who are looking at them – but as a Head Coach he looks like an athlete.

“He’s got power in his calfs, he’s got power in his glutes and he’s got power in his thighs. With that, comes power and I think he’s got quicker as a player and looks at home.

“The persona that’s around him. I don’t really pay much attention to. It’s what he does when he comes into this training ground and when leaves this training ground. I know for a fact how professional and how driven this lad is now.

“I saw it for myself on Tuesday when I came to watch the Villa women training at 8pm and he was still in the gym. It just shows – we’d trained at Villa Park in the morning and he’d gone back home, had a sleep and then felt he needed to come in and do his usual gym session.

“So he was back here at 8pm on a Tuesday evening which shows me how he has matured and how driven he is to become a top performer this season. “

Grealish made a rare mistake at Tottenham last Saturday that led to Harry Kane scoring.

But Smith said: “He was as gutted as anybody that he got robbed for the second goal. But it didn’t stop him getting on the ball. There were a number of times when he got on the ball in our penalty box and carried the ball out – unfortunately on one of them he got caught, we got punished and they scored.”

Smith admits though that some things have been lost in translation with some of Villa’s new signings.

The Villa head coach added: “Jack seems to have a good relationship with all the players already. Big Wesley actually said to me: ‘Is he your son?’ So Wes’s English is certainly getting better.”

Howe: ‘Mings is England material’

By Graham Hill

BOURNEMOUTH boss Eddie Howe has backed Tyrone Mings for an England call-up as he comes face-to-face with his former defender at Villa Park.

Villa signed Mings in a deal worth over £26million last month after a successful loan spell which ended with Dean Smith’s side winning promotion last season in the Championship Play-off Final.

And Howe told reporters on Friday that he sold Mings, 26, because he preferred Dutchman Nathan Are at the heart of his defence.

Sky Sports reported Howe as saying: “Tyrone Mings has got all the attributes to play for England.

”He’s been unfortunate with injuries. He was never able to get that run in the team that he wanted.

“He was fighting with Nathan Ake for the same shirt. It’s no surprise he’s done so well at Aston Villa. He’ll have that in his mind (England) as something he can achieve.”

Howe says Mings will be a difficult opponent for Bournemouth this weekend.

He added: ”My players know how good Tyrone Mings is, having trained with him over a long period of time. We know him well, he knows us well.

“There’s no doubting his qualities as a player. Very good on the ball, very athletic, very strong and very good in the air.

“I think it’ll be a good match-up between our front players and him, it will be interesting to see how those duels come out in the match. But we wish him well for the future and it will be good to catch up with him.”

But Bournemouth make the trip to Villa Park without David Brooks, Lloyd Kelly, Arnaut Danjuma, Dan Gosling, Lewis Cook, Simon Francis and Junior Stanislas who have all been ruled out for the game.

Santamaria one for the future?

By Graham Hill

THE transfer window may be closed, but that has not stopped Villa’s major activity in the market being discussed well after the deadline has passed.

Last week, it emerged that Villa had tried and failed to sign Celta Vigo midfielder Pione Sisto.

Now French Ligue 1 side Amiens have also made it known that Villa put in an offer for midfielder Baptiste Santamaria.

But, as with Dean Smth’s attempts to sign Said Benrahma from Brentford, the move was unsuccessful.

It may well be that the deal has been put on Ice through, with Amiens keen to keep Santamaria, 24, for one more season.

The website Ninetyminutesonline reports that Olivier Pickeau, Amiens sporting director, as saying: “We closed the door. I think it’s pretty clear.

“Aston Villa made an important offer, we had a chat with Baptiste to explain the importance he had in our project and the fact that he could be allowed to leave next year.

“As a result of our exchange, we thought we would continue the adventure together, without frustration, and the correct opportunity will come.”

Villa have dismissed reports that striker Jonathan Kodjia could be on his way to Turkish side Besiktas with the window still open in Europe.

Kodjia is an injury doubt for Saturday’s clash with Bournemouth at Villa Park.

But Dean Smith has told reporters that there are no plans to sell Kodjia this month and he does not welcome any enquiries for him after failing to sign another striker along with £22million man Wesley.

There is still a question mark over keeper Lovre Kalinic though with Villa ready to let him go for around £3million after a difficult move to the Midlands last January.

Dean: Villa Park will define season

By Graham Hill

DEAN Smith says he took his new signings to train at Villa Park this week to get them used to their new home.

Smith has brought in a string of signings this summer – and some of them will not have played in front of the Holte End.

So the Villa boss took them training there to show them what it was all about – albeit in front of an empty stadium.

Villa stage their first home game back in the Premier League on Saturday when they host Bournemouth in front of a big crowd.

And Smith is leaving nothing to chance when it comes to Villa’s new faces.

He told reporters: “I thought it was a great opportunity, there’s been 12 incomings and some of them won’t have been to Villa Park before.

“It was a chance to train on the pitch before the weekend.

“I don’t want any of them turning up at Villa Park and seeing it for the first time.

“We trained there on Tuesday and had a really good session.

“It just gave some of the new signings a welcome to Villa Park.”

Smith aims to make Villa Park the sort of fortress it was last season as the team staged their late Play-Off bid.

He added: “We had the place rocking last season.

“We went on such a good run and in the West Brom game in the Play-offs, the supporters certainly became our 12th man.

“We need to make sure Villa Park can become a fortress this season too. But we also know we have to perform even better than we did last season, because the quality of the opposition is better as well.

“Everybody’s looking forward to it, not just the new players but the ones who were here before as well. They’re excited to play at Villa Park in the Premier League.

“It’s something we’ve worked hard to achieve but we don’t want to make up the numbers. We’ve worked hard and I expect a reaction. We have to be right at it, that’s where our season will be defined.”

Mings ‘calm’ for Cherries clash

By Graham Hill

TYRONE Mings has been tipped to stay as level-headed as ever when he comes up against former club Bournemouth on Saturday.

And Villa boss Dean Smith feel it will not be too long before he is also part of the England set-up.

Mings left the Cherries this summer after a successful loan spell for Villa in the second half of last season.

He was one of Dean Smith’s key men as Villa won promotion via the play-offs.

Mings was keen to stay at Villa Park but Bournemouth refused to let him go on the cheap and a deal worth in excess of £26million was agreed between the clubs.

Smith was satisfied that Mings had shaken off his image as an injury prone player and Cherries boss Eddie Howe’s summer business suggested there was no definite place for him his plans.

Mings is sure to want to turn in an impressive display in Villa’s first home game of the season.

But Smith says he knows the player will not let the significance of the clash get to him.

The Villa boss told reporters: “He’s a level headed lad, Tyrone played a few games for them last season, he’s played big games in the Premier League, but he knew he needed to go and play football last season.

“We enjoyed having him here, he enjoyed being here. We took up the opportunity to buy him, Eddie Howe didn’t really want him to leave.

“He’ll be liked by both clubs.

“We’re not blessed with two many left footed centre backs in this country, I have two in Kortney Hause as well.

“Tyrone catches the eye

“He’s very good, he’s a tremendous talent, the more he plays, the more he’ll come into people’s minds, that will probably include England coaching staff as well.”

Smith also feels John Terry has been a huge help to Mings behind the scenes as well.

He added: “JT’s a help and guide to all the defenders here. He’s played at this level all of his career and the little snippets of info he can give them will certainly help.

“I always saw Tyrone as a centre-back, maybe people thought he was a left back when he first came through. For me he was a natural centre-back. He felt that was his best position when he came here as well.”

Smith: ‘England chance is there’

By Graham Hill

VILLA boss Dean Smith has urged his English players to go out and force their way into Gareth Southgatae’s plans this season.

Smith believes the likes of Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings – as well as Kortney Hause, who has represented England at Under-20 level – are ready to step up.

But he insists they have to impress for Villa in the Premier League before they can start thinking of England call-ups.

Grealish has long been tipped to play for England – but Southgate said he would not be picked as long as he was a Championship player – while Mings is now in the sort of form that could also earn recognition for the Three Lions.

Smith told reporters on Thursday: “Gareth Southgate came to a game here last season in the Champioship.

“And knowing he’s looking out at our players can only give them a boost, the players know what an opportunity this is for them.

“First you perform for Vila, then you can put yourself in the shop window at international level.

“We have a number of internationals in the squad already. Hause, Tyrone, Jack Grealish, this gives them the chance to showcase their talent in the top league.”

Grealish: McGinn is ‘a pleasure’

By Phil Jennings

JACK Grealish believes John McGinn is the best player at Villa Park.

The Villa skipper was interviewed by Sky Sports’ Soccer AM programme and he singled out his pal McGinn for praise.

When asked who he thought the best player at the club was, Grealish replied: “I’d probably say John McGinn, he’s so good.

“He isn’t as good in training as he is on the matchday, he doesn’t like all the little bits, the one-touch, two-touch, little games.

“But on the matchday obviously he is unbelievable. For me to play alongside him is a pleasure.”

Grealish also labelled new £22million striker Wesley as the team’s new hard man – and recalled being on the receiving end of a punch at Blues earlier this season.

He added: “Wesley, the new striker, in our first pre-season game he started fighting straight away with one of the Walsall players!

“But even in training he’s not afraid to throw his body around. He’s come in and let people know he’s here!”

And speaking about being attacked by a fan at St Andrew’s, Grealish added: “I took one last season, a right beauty! Do you know what, I thought it was one of their players at the start!

“But at least we won the game, that was the main thing. I had to laugh it off for a bit, but I was fuming inside, you know the ones!

“I can’t really say it happens in football, because it doesn’t, it’s the last thing I would’ve expected to happen on a pitch. At the end of the day I just wanted to win the game, and we did.”

Heaton: We’re going back home

By Phil Jennings

VILLA keeper Tom Heaton says he was ‘stepping into the unknown’ when he signed for Dean Smith.

Heaton, 33, made an impressive debut in goal for Villa at Tottenham on Saturday, and admitted afterwards he feels right at home after leaving Burnley.

He told reporters: “I wouldn’t say I came here with trepidation, just a sense of the unknown. Since setting foot in the building, I have loved every minute so far.

“There’s a real togetherness, even though we have a lot of new players. We’re building that togetherness and it’s a good place to be.

“Having been at Burnley for so long, I think it’s well-known in football how good things are there.

The dressing room was the unique selling point and the reason the team was always greater than the sum of its parts.”

Heaton now has his eyes on Villa’s home game with Bournemouth on Saturday where they will appear in front of their own fans for the first time since being promoted.

The Villa keeper added: “We’re going back home. That’s where we really want to stamp our authority on games.

We tried on Saturday at times. But that was always going to be a different kind of game. Hopefully we’ll start on the front foot and get going then.

“There’s a lot of hunger here. But I know there’s not a lot of Premier League experience. There were moments in Saturday’s game which I am sure we will learn from, key moments and in the Premier League those details count.

“But in terms of ability, the hunger to play at this level, kick on and keep this club in the Premier League and moving up the table, it has been impressive. I am really, really positive for the rest of the season.”

Danish winger ‘turned down Villa’

By Graham Hill

VILLA were busy trying to do more deals before the transfer window closed last week – and news is emerging of a failed attempt for Celta Vigo winger Pione Sisto, who turned down a move to the Midlands.

Boss Dean Smith wanted to bring in Brentford forward Said Benrahma before the deadline – but that did not happen with the Londoners refusing to lower their asking price.

But now it seems another deal was brewing in the background – and this also failed to come off.

Spanish publication Marca report that Villa had a £9.2million bid for Sisto, 24, accepted by Celta.

Villa were prepared to offer the player around £19,000 a week – which was a big increase on what he was earning in La Liga.

But Sisto – a South Sudanese-Danish player with 21 Denmark caps – turned down the move even though he is out of the picture this season at Celta.

And he confirmed Villa’s interest on social media – insisting that he would not be moving simply for the extra money on offer. Celta were keen to move him on but the player would not budge.