Dean Smith outlines Leeds United aim for Aston Villa's third season back in the Premier League
ASTON Villa boss Dean Smith has outlined his side's Leeds United aim upon Villa's third season back in the Premier League.
Former Brentford boss Smith took Villa up from the Championship in his first season in charge through a 2-1 victory in the 2019 play-off final against Derby County who had ended the promotion hopes of Marcelo Bielsa's Leeds in the semis.
Villa, who had finished the 2018-19 Championship season in fifth, then survived their first season back in the country's top flight by a point and a place in finishing 17th as Bournemouth, Norwich City and Watford all went down.
Villa then began the 2020-21 Premier League season with four-straight wins but the lightning-fast start was brought to a crashing end as Smith's side suffered a 3-0 loss at home to newly-promoted Leeds at the end of October.
Marcelo Bielsa's 2019-20 Championship champions eventually finished two positions and four points ahead of Villa by sealing a ninth-placed finish as Smith's side ended up 11th, four points behind tenth-placed Everton.
Smith, though, says his side are now working towards turning the tables on the likes of Leeds and Everton next season and higher up the table outfits such as eighth-placed finishers Arsenal and seventh-placed Tottenham.
Smith told Birmingham Live: "I am never one to temper ambitions because our ambitions are to keep progressing and growing.
"But I think to climb from 17th to 11th is a lot easier than to climb from 11th to the top six or seven because of the size of the clubs who are there.
"Everybody will say Liverpool and Chelsea probably struggled a bit this season.
"Yet they still finished in the top four at the expense of West Ham and Leicester.
"Their resources are bigger than a lot of the other clubs in the league.
"We are still playing catch up in that sense.
"Arsenal probably suffered this season, Tottenham will be getting a new manager. Everton, Leeds all finished above us as well.
"Our job now is to try and progress and overtake them, which is a difficult thing to do, but there is a plan in place and some things will happen quicker than others."
Smith added: "We didn't expect to get promoted that first season and we did. Our job was to then stay up and we managed to do that and progressed again.
"(Next season) will also be about progression but we understand things take time to become an elite part of that group."
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Thank you Laura Collins