John Terry was handed his first role in coaching by Aston Villa on Wednesday evening when he was appointed as assistant to incoming head coach Dean Smith .
However, there was confusion as to the exact part Terry would play in the new set-up when it emerged on Thursday morning that Smith’s assistant coach at Brentford, Richard O’Kelly, would be moving to Villa Park in the same capacity.
With two assistant coaches, and the fact that Smith and O’Kelly already have an established relationship from their time in West London, it will be intriguing to see just how much of a say Terry will have in the coaching set-up.
But Smith is a thoughtful, level-headed character and will not be quick to make an enemy of the 37-year-old by alienating him.
Most of the former Walsall manager’s family still live in the West Midlands and, along with Smith himself, are fervent Villa supporters, so he will be doubly motivated to make a success of his time with the Championship club.
What will Dean Smith be like as Aston Villa manager?
At Brentford, Smith enjoyed a light-hearted, jovial relationship with his players and that is something he will want to continue, while using Terry’s experience of being in the Villa dressing room last season to learn how different individuals tick.
After a Carabao Cup tie against Cheltenham earlier this season, he joked with Chris Mepham that he was delighted when the centre-back broke his nose in the match because he now looked like a “proper defender”, and once told journalists ahead of a press conference with Josh McEachran to tell the midfielder they had heard he was the worst golfer at the club.
He uses those relationships to gain trust from his players and he is known for his man-management, having also spent time visiting the French Rugby Federation and London Irish to learn how rugby coaches build character and leadership qualities in their players.
That ability to get the best out of different personalities will be a key attribute for Terry in his coaching career and he will receive a beneficial education working under Smith.
What will Dean Smith’s tactics be like at Aston Villa?
From a tactical standpoint, Brentford have been renowned for playing attacking, possession-based football in the last three years. Smith’s sides set up to press teams, win the ball back early, and attack with pace and patterns of passing play.
But Smith’s approach is not one-dimensional, and Terry will learn at close quarters the details of how to get players at that level to adapt to different tactical game-plans depending on the opposition.
Just last Saturday, Smith set Brentford up in a more defensive manner for their trip to then-Championship leaders Leeds United, picking up a point after selecting holding midfielders Nico Yennaris and Kamohelo Mokotjo in place of the more attack-minded McEachran and Lewis Macleod.
Why did John Terry take the Aston Villa assistant role?
Terry, who had been without a club since leaving Villa at the end of last season, announced his retirement from playing on Sunday before accepting the position .
The Chelsea legend’s first experience as a coach should prove to be an invaluable one for his future career in the dugout.
Smith’s success as a manager to date has been in exceeding expectations on limited budgets with Walsall and Brentford, and Terry is in the right place to learn.