Aston Villa boss Dean Smith explains why Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder has been so successful

Aston Villa boss Dean Smith says he is not surprised Sheffield United’s Chris Wilder has forged a successful career as a manager.

Friday, 13th December 2019, 1:14 pm

The pair spent a month together as players at unfashionable Walsall when Wilder was sent there on loan from the Blades in 1989.

But even in that short period, Smith quickly recognised that the then fledgling right-back had all the traits to succeed in the game.

“The way he's adapted to every league he's played in,” he said.

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Aston Villa manager Dean Smith. Photo: Mike Egerton/PA Wire.

“He's got a style about him. They're very, very hardworking and that's something we have to match tomorrow.

“The way he was as a player he is as a manager, works hard and demands that from his players. We're now at the top-table of the Premier League.”

Smith’s men were promoted via the play-offs in the summer but, unlike his former teammate’s side, have struggled for consistency in their first season back in the Premier League.

They go into tomorrow’s clash at Bramall Lane in 17th place and on the back of a 4-1 defeat to Leicester City at Villa Park on Sunday – but Smith says it’s unfair to compare the two sides’s contrasting fortunes.

“We're a team that has been thrown together in the summer," said Smith, who had a season at Sheffield Wednesday as a player 16 years ago.

“We've kept a nucleus of players in terms of the spine but a lot are getting used to the Premier League and they'll get better for the experiences we've had so far.

“The thing we can take into it is they've only won one more game than us this season.

“They finished 13 points ahead of us last season in the Championship.

“We've had a big turnaround in the summer, they've kept the same squad and added to it in two or three positions.

“They've certainly got that stability that they had last season and carried that on well.

“Us, we've got a team with an awful lot of potential and is still growing.

“They've been a lot harder to beat than we have and that's one thing I want us to improve on."