Albion's French ace hails Villa boss's influence

Albion striker Neal Maupay has hailed the influence which current Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has had on his career during the pair’s time together at Brentford.

By James Hilsum • 19 October 2019

By Paul Hazlewood
Neal Maupay.

The Frenchman learned plenty about the English game under Smith’s tutelage, and he spoke about the ways in which Smith developed his overall game.

He said, “I know him well because we were together for a year and a half at Brentford. When I moved there, it was because I wanted to go somewhere that the manager needed me.

“I met him in the summer after he watched me play a few games in France, and I felt it was the right move for me.

“I had no idea about English football when I arrived, and he showed me a lot of videos in terms of how I could improve.

“I became a better player and overall striker with him, and my ability to score goals is better now. I keep trying to learn the game, react to how the defenders are on the pitch, and anticipate if I need to drop deep. I was with him for a good two years, and he played a key role in getting me to where I am now.”

By Rex/Shutterstock
Dean Smith

Maupay believes that there are comparisons in the styles of Potter and Smith, and spoke about the enjoyment he gets by playing under both managers.

“In terms of football, they both like to play with the ball on the ground. Their personalities are similar in terms of the relationships they have with the players too.

“You can talk to them both at any time, and they bring smiles to their players. When I was out there training at Brentford, we were all happy to train with Dean, and it is the same here. Everyone is happy to train and work hard for both of them.”

By Paul Hazlewood
Aaron Connolly training with Neal Maupay.

The 24-year-old also commented on the array of attacking talent in the squad, and how his style complements both Aaron Connolly and Glenn Murray.

“We surprised Tottenham because they didn’t really know how to deal with me or Aaron. When we started the game, we were running in behind, fighting for the second balls and pressing them.

“I don’t think they were ready for that. Aaron and I are not big like Glenn, so we are players that can go into space.

“But Glenn and I also fit in well together because he’s big, can keep the ball, and I am able to run in behind him. We are all adapting to a different system, which will take time, but we’ll get there.”