Dean Smith has been appointed Aston Villa's head coach, with John Terry brought in to work alongside the former Brentford manager as his assistant as part of a new-look management team that the owners hope will breathe fresh life into the club.
On a day of significant change at Villa Park it was also announced that Jesús García Pitarch, who previously worked for Valencia and Atlético Madrid, has been appointed sporting director, prompting Christian Purslow, the club's chief executive, to talk about a "new era".
Although Smith's name featured prominently on Villa's original shortlist, the 47-year-old was initially viewed as an outsider. Thierry Henry, who was linked with the job in the summer and held talks in the wake of Steve Bruce's sacking last week, was the leading candidate at the outset, but the picture changed when the Frenchman made it clear that he was no longer interested.
Villa also considered the merits of Brendan Rodgers, the Celtic manager, and Rui Faria, José Mourinho's former number two, before turning to Smith, who has done a hugely impressive job at Brentford and earned a reputation for playing expansive, attacking football. Smith, who grew up supporting Villa, will take charge of his first game on Saturday week, at home to Swansea City.
Terry was earmarked for a return to Villa irrespective of the manager. The 37-year-old captained the team last season, when they suffered defeat to Fulham in the play-off final, and there was a desire at board level to bring him back in a coaching capacity. It is understood that Terry’s role will not prevent Smith from bringing in his backroom staff from Griffin Park, although much now depends on Brentford’s stance.
In a club statement, Purslow said: "These three appointments represent the start of a new era and direction at Aston Villa and we are delighted to secure their services after an extensive search. … Dean has a clear and successful coaching philosophy as well as a real understanding of Aston Villa football club. He is also knowledgeable about the Championship.
“John is one of the most decorated players in English football, has an affinity with the club and is ready to make the next step in his career working alongside Dean. And Jesús also brings a huge amount of experience in his particular role having worked with some of the biggest clubs in Europe.”