Smith toasts sur­vival hero Gre­al­ish

Villa coach plans party with goal-scorer af­ter stay­ing up Bournemout­h and Wat­ford rel­e­gated to Cham­pi­onship

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport - By Matt Law FOOT­BALL NEWS CORRESPOND­ENT at London Sta­dium

As­ton Villa man­ager Dean Smith vowed to get drunk with “Sur­vival Sun­day” hero Jack Gre­al­ish be­fore wor­ry­ing whether the mid­fielder’s vi­tal goal against West Ham United would be his last for the club.

Boy­hood Villa fan Gre­al­ish net­ted the late goal that ef­fec­tively se­cured his side’s Premier League sta­tus and rel­e­gated Bournemout­h, who won at Ever­ton.

Although Gre­al­ish’s goal was not enough to se­cure vic­tory, thanks to a quick re­ply from West Ham sub­sti­tute An­driy Yar­molenko, it kept Villa out of the drop zone – de­spite Bournemout­h’s 3-1 vic­tory – as Wat­ford lost 3-2 at Arse­nal.

Gre­al­ish had cel­e­brated his goal by run­ning to his Villa-sup­port­ing man­ager, Smith, and the rest of the vis­i­tors’ bench. The pair planned to party to­gether last night.

Manch­ester United have been linked with Gre­al­ish, but Smith made it clear that talks over the 24-year-old’s fu­ture would wait un­til their cel­e­bra­tions were over and that any club who wanted him would have to pay a for­tune.

Asked what hap­pened now for Gre­al­ish, Smith replied: “He goes out and gets drunk with me, that’s what hap­pens now. Tomorrow I will sit down with the own­ers and the chief ex­ec­u­tive.”

Pressed on whether sur­vival gave Villa a bet­ter chance of keep­ing Gre­al­ish, Smith added: “I’ve got no idea. His con­tract has got another three or four years on it. We’ve got bil­lion­aire own­ers and if peo­ple want him, then he’s go­ing to cost an aw­ful lot of money.”

Villa had been writ­ten off fol­low­ing the thrash­ing by Le­ices­ter City just be­fore lock­down and the 3-0 de­feat by Manch­ester United af­ter the restart, but they re­sponded with eight points from their fi­nal four games, which in­cluded a vic­tory against Arse­nal.

Smith’s fa­ther Ron died from coro­n­avirus dur­ing lock­down and the Villa man­ager said: “I had a ‘Holte En­ders in the Sky’ badge on to­day in hon­our of him. The lock­down was ob­vi­ously an emo­tional time

Con­trast­ing for­tunes: Jack Gre­al­ish (top) af­ter scor­ing in Villa’s draw, which sent Eddie Howe (left) and Bournemout­h down

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