Smith earns December 2020 Barclays Manager of the Month award

15 Jan 2021

Aston Villa head coach claims December prize after his team conceded just once in unbeaten month

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Dean Smith has been named the Barclays Manager of the Month for December 2020.

The Aston Villa head coach takes the award after his side remained unbeaten across five matches to end the year in fifth place.

Smith's team beat Wolverhampton Wanderers with a stoppage-time penalty, before scoring three goals in successive victories against West Bromwich Albion and Crystal Palace.

They also enjoyed a run of four straight clean sheets, with a goalless draw against Burnley in that run. Villa conceded only once, in a 1-1 draw at Chelsea.

'Wolves win was pivotal'

"Going into the month of December we were still quite confident but I suppose the Wolves game was quite pivotal," Smith said.

"Had we lost that game we could have lost a lot of confidence but we got the win and that helped maintain the belief we had in the dressing room."

Smith paid tribute to his side's defensive resolve and hard work ethic, while he particularly enjoyed the victory over Palace.

"The highlight for me was Boxing Day," he said. "We played Palace at home, went down to 10 men but still won comfortably and could have scored more - that was an outstanding performance."

The 49-year-old wins the prize for the first time and is the first Villa manager or head coach to claim the award since Martin O'Neill in April 2010.

He joins Brian Little, John Gregory and O'Neill as the only people in charge of Villa to take the monthly honour.

Smith beat fellow nominees Carlo Ancelotti, Sean Dyche and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after votes from the public were combined with those of a panel of football experts.

2020/21 Barclays Manager winners

September: Carlo Ancelotti (EVE)
October: Nuno Espirito Santo (WOL)
November: Jose Mourinho (TOT)
December: Dean Smith (AVL)
January: Pep Guardiola (MCI)
February: Pep Guardiola (MCI)
March: Thomas Tuchel (CHE)

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