Smith thinks Villa's survival last season was divine intervention

Dean Smith thinks Aston Villa’s last-gasp survival last season was divine intervention… suggesting his late father ‘played a trick’ on VAR when it failed to award a Sheffield United goal scored against them in June

  • Aston Villa escaped relegation by a point last season on the final day of 2019-20 
  • After the restart, they earned a controversial 0-0 draw with Sheffield United 
  • The Blades were denied a goal as VAR failed to spot the ball crossing the line
  • Villa boss Dean Smith believes the moment could have been divine intervention 

Dean Smith believes divine intervention may have kept Aston Villa in the Premier League as he reflected on the lucky escape they had against Monday night’s opponents Sheffield United.

When the sides met at Villa Park in June, the Blades were denied a goal because Hawk-Eye failed to spot that Oliver Norwood’s free-kick had been carried over the goal-line by Orjan Nyland. 

As a result, referee Michael Oliver received no alert to his watch or earpiece. The game ended 0-0 and Villa eventually stayed up by a point.

Dean Smith led Aston Villa to narrow Premier League survival last season on the final day

Villa face Sheffield United on Monday, bringing back memories of their June clash last term 

VAR failed to spot that Orjan Nyland had carried the ball over the line, costing the Blades a win

Smith’s father Ron, a lifelong fan who worked as a steward at Villa Park, died in May aged 79 after contracting Covid-19, and the Villa boss revealed: ‘I am not really one for religion or anything like that but my dad had just passed away. 

‘His old steward’s jacket was in the Holte End and he had a thing about watches. So maybe he just wanted to play a bit of a trick that day.

‘It is one of those one in a million things. It had never failed before. People can say what they want about the goal but we stayed up on merit and there were many goals chalked off which shouldn’t have been. 

Smith’s father had just passed from COVID-19 and the Villa boss believes he helped them out 

‘VAR was certainly contentious for Villa last season.’

Since avoiding relegation, Villa have brought in four players and tied captain Jack Grealish to a new five-year contract.

One of the arrivals, goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez, is expected to make his debut tonight after joining the club from Arsenal for an initial £16million.  

‘He’s a player who finished the season really well with Arsenal,’ Smith said. 

‘He wanted a fresh challenge and we’ve got a situation where Tom Heaton isn’t fit for the start of the season.’

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