Dean Smith questioned his players’ fight and passion following Aston Villa’s tame defeat to Southampton which left them teetering above the relegation zone.
Villa were second best at St Mary’s, going down 2-0 after goals from Shane Long and Stuart Armstrong, and Smith was angered by the lack of character displayed by his team who sit only one point above the drop, with relegation-rivals West Ham, Watford and Norwich all yet to play this gameweek.
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Smith said: “Certainly a lot of players have played themselves out of the team for next week.”
The Villa boss continued: “Being 1-0 down you’re always in the game, but I just wanted to see more fight in the players – just show me that you care, show a little bit of passion about what you’re doing.
“That’s the responsibility of any professional footballer and we never did that.”
Aston Villa face Manchester City in the Carabao Cup final next Sunday, live on Sky Sports, but Smith said the opportunity for silverware provided little comfort given Villa lie 17th in the Premier League.
“I’m not even bothered about the cup final next week – this was our cup final today and the performances were terrible,” Smith said.
Pressed on whether he was disappointed with his side, Smith replied: “Yes, I am – the performance, result, especially the first 20 minutes I thought were dreadful.
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