US News With millions from Egypt: the resurrection of a cult club

17:45  23 october  2020
17:45  23 october  2020 Source:   sport1.de

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Surprise team Aston Villa can top the table for the first time since 2001. A fan leads the club with Egypt millions back up.

Mit Millionen aus Ägypten: Auferstehung eines Kultklubs © Provided by sport1.de With millions from Egypt: Resurrection of a cult club

All of a sudden, Aston Villa was on everyone's lips.

That furious 7: 2 against Liverpool not only caused Jürgen Klopp nightmares, but also brought the traditional club from Birmingham back into the headlines with a clap of thunder.

How was that possible? As the 17th of the previous season barely escaped relegation, the Villans humiliated the Dominator of the Premier League in an incredible way.

As the only team with a perfect record, they could even make it to the top of the table against Leeds United on Friday evening. In addition to spending 80 million euros, one man is the father of success: Dean Smith.

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Aston Villa turns to

with coach Smith Despite 566 professional games, he never made it into the Premier League.

In October 2018 Smith - with the reputation of having made a lot out of little in Brentford - took over the stumbling club with a great past (including the 1982 European Cup) in 14th place in the second division.

With England legend John Terry as assistant coach, the change quickly took place. Smith nurtured talent like the gifted midfielder Jack Grealish and broke the 109-year-old club record with a tenth win in a row against Millwall in the spring of 2019.

Billionaire duo buys the Chinese out

With a 2-1 win against Terry's old Chelsea colleague Frank Lampard and Derby County, they returned to the Premier League via the playoffs.

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Villa thus crowned a crazy year that began with the sale of the club by the hapless and mostly haphazard Chinese owner Tony Xia to the billion dollar duo Wes Edens and Nassef Sawiris from the USA and Egypt.

Sawiris, who attended the German Evangelical High School in Cairo, is the boss of a fertilizer manufacturer. In 2015 he joined the sporting goods manufacturer Adidas and is considered the richest man in Egypt.

It clicks after Corona restart

Nevertheless, things did not go smoothly in the Premier League at first. Before the outbreak of the corona pandemic, the great villa fan Smith was about to be kicked out of his dream club.

After the restart the knot suddenly burst, with a 1-1 draw on the last matchday against West Ham, the relegation was made perfect. "Still, nobody was happy with 17th place," said Smith, who lost his father to Covid-19 in May. Test

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80 million euros for new stars

Smith left the party, spent the night on the sofa in his office and even canceled his family vacation in Scotland in order to perfectly plan the 2020/21 season.

With the new sports director Johan Lange, who came from Copenhagen, a total of 80 million euros were invested - mostly in goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez from Arsenal and striker Ollie Watkins, who came for over 30 million from second division Brentford.

The duo fixed two glaring weaknesses. In the past five transfer windows, goalkeepers have not been convincing, Watkins shocked Klopp's Liverpool with three goals.

There were also Betrand Traoré from Lyon and defender Matty Cash from Nottingham as well as international player Ross Barkley from Chelsea on loan.

"Proud to play for Villa"

All of them are regulars for the surprise team from Central England, but the two biggest coups were the contract extensions with their own stars Tyrone Mings and especially captain Grealish, who was heavily courted by Manchester United among others.

"I want players to come to work every day happy and proud to play for Villa," says Smith at The Athletic .

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Smith and Terry got the defensive under control. With discipline and aggressiveness, he turned the shooting gallery (19/20: 67 goals conceded) into a strong collective that currently remained clean in three of four games. At the front he gives his creative masters like Grealish and the Egyptian Trezeguet a lot of freedom: "We know we have guys who can meet at any time."

Grealish convinces Barkley

Grealish convinced his buddy Barkley of the Villans with endless messages and calls - the chemistry between the two is right. "I only said he goes to the European Championship if he helps us win games," said Smith, explaining the Barkley coup.

The coach also has a theory as to why his young team improved so much after the restart: "I think the empty stadium helped them, so they had to talk to each other - they also really hear everything from outside."

Against Leeds, just one point is enough to become leaders of the Premier League for the first time since 2001 - but no one at the club goes crazy because of this snapshot, rather hard work is also being done in the youth and women's department to position Villa broadly for the future.

If at some point spectators are allowed to enter Villa Park again, the cult club could finally rise again.

Gladbach's late bloomer takes off .
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