Thursday 23 January 2020

Smith desperate to end Villa's 24-year wait for silverware

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

John Percy

Dean Smith has told his Aston Villa players to "create a new history" as he bids to end his beloved club's 24-year wait for silverware.

Smith is a Villa supporter since childhood, watching the 1977 League Cup final against Everton at Wembley with his father, Ron, and is desperate to navigate a path to this season's showpiece.

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Villa have not won a major cup since beating Leeds United in the 1996 League Cup final and face Leicester City in the first leg tonight at the King Power Stadium as underdogs.

Leicester thrashed Villa 4-1 in the league last month but Smith, who has signed former Leicester midfielder Danny Drinkwater on loan from Chelsea for the rest of season, is targeting a trip to Wembley for the second time in 12 months.

Smith led Villa back to the top flight in the Championship play-off final last May and is urging his squad to start etching their own names into the club's history. "Twenty-four years is a long time and opportunities don't come around like this very often," he said. "We've won the play-offs in May (and) that's what our role is now, to create a new history for Aston Villa. "Going to see any team you follow at Wembley is always special."

Smith will also be aiming to end a remarkable unbeaten record for Leicester manager Brendan Rodgers who has not lost in 29 domestic cup ties. Rodgers lifted two Scottish Cups and three Scottish League Cups during his time with Celtic and last experienced defeat in April 2015, when his Liverpool team lost an FA Cup semi-final - against Villa.

"Brendan has certainly got a love for winning cup competitions and it's a great record," said Smith

Villa will be without Drinkwater as he is cup-tied from his loan spell at Burnley and after hardly playing over the past two years he left the Clarets to play regular first-team football. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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