Smith toasts survival hero Grealish
Villa coach plans party with goal-scorer after staying up Bournemouth and Watford relegated to Championship
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