Dean’s debrief: Second half fightback, Grealish magic and Reina debut

January 18, 2020 5:00 am

Dean Smith spoke to the media in the wake of Aston Villa’s 1-1 draw against Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium.

The manager identified what sparked his side’s fightback, Jack Grealish’s influence, Pepe Reina’s debut and upcoming games.

Here’s what he had to say…

On second half fightback…

It was a good point in the end. We spoke to the players about it [being aggressive] at half-time. We’d done ok in the first half but that isn’t good enough in this league.

You need to up your levels and I thought the players did that in the second half. I thought they were very good.

We were too passive in the first half and we allowed Brighton to get into our half far too easily.

We had some relentless pressure in the second half and some good opportunities. They were better in the first half and we were better in the second, so a point is a fair result.

On Jack Grealish’s influence…

He’s a super player, a super lad as well and that’s why it’s so pleasing that he’s doing so well this season.

It’s his record goalscoring season and that will continue and he’ll score more. He’s had to [score goals] because we’re without a recognised striker.

Anwar El Ghazi ran his socks off today and with him, Trezeguet and Jack the onus is on them to score.

It was a really good goal today but I know Jack and he’ll be disappointed with the one he missed today because they ended up going up the other end and scoring.

On Reina’s debut…

He’s calmness personified – you wouldn’t believe he’s just come to a new club. I know he’s 37, I know he’s a World Cup winner, but his character is exemplary within the dressing room.

On the pitch he gave us that calmness. He didn’t have an awful lot to do. He had to pick the ball out of the net but we protected him very well.

He was very calm in possession of the ball and when he was called upon with three minutes left he’s made a very good save.

On games to come…

Games against Manchester City and Liverpool aren’t going to define our season, it’s the games against teams similar to ourselves which will.

It’s the Bournemouths and the Brightons who are in and around us. We had to take that [defeat to Manchester City] on the chin and move on.

We’ve got a good point on the road today and, certainly in the second half, a really good performance.