Aston Villa have confirmed that they have parted ways with manager Dean Smith.
The boyhood Villa fan joined the club in 2018, leading them to promotion back to the Premier League via the playoffs in his first season.
They just about staved off relegation on their return to the top flight with a 17th-place finish on the final day of the season, before a solid 11th-place return in the 2020/21 campaign.
But after a poor start to the 2021/22 season after spending big in the summer transfer market, Smith has been sacked by Villa with the club just two points above the drop zone and on a run of five straight defeats.
Villa CEO Christian Purslow said in a statement: “When Dean joined us in October 2018 our team was really struggling in the Championship. He immediately transformed the atmosphere and performances and achieved the ultimate success of leading Villa back to the Premier League within the same season – a rare feat.
“He then secured our place in the Premier League after a tough campaign and took us to a cup final at Wembley.
“However, after a good start to last season, this year we have not seen the continuous improvement in results, performances and league position which we have all been looking for. For this reason we have decided to make a change now to allow time for a new head coach to make an impact.
“The Board would like to sincerely thank Dean for his many excellent achievements, on and off the pitch, during this time. Everyone knows how much Aston Villa means to Dean and his family. He has represented the Club with distinction and dignity – universally liked and respected by everybody associated with Aston Villa – our staff, players and supporters alike. We wish him the very best.”