Boyhood Aston Villa fan Dean Smith says he is aware of the importance of the Carabao Cup to the five-time winners and has called on his players to ‘create a new history’, as the club look to win the competition for the sixth time and end a 24 year run without a domestic trophy.
Aston Villa lifted the League Cup in its first ever final following victory over Rotherham United, but their most recent success in the competition came back in 1996 with a 3-0 win over Leeds United at Wembley. They did reach the final as recently as 2010, but narrowly lost out to Manchester United.
Ahead of their Semi-Final first leg tie against Leicester City tonight, manager Dean Smith has set his sights on winning the trophy for a sixth time in the club’s history.
“We’ve got an opportunity now to win a cup Semi-Final and get through to a Final,” Smith said speaking to the media yesterday.
“The players are all ready. We don’t have a lot of choice with the numbers we have, but everyone is looking forward to the game.
“There’s a real good work ethic and a drive about the players that I want to continue. We’re all looking forward to two really good games against Leicester.
“I prefer to play away first, but the key thing is making sure we’re still in the tie when they come to Villa Park. We’ve got to strike the balance between being cautious and trying to win it. If you. Sit back and defend against Leicester, they’ve got players who can hurt you."
Villa and Leicester faced each other as recently as December in the Premier League, the Foxes running out 4-1 winners that afternoon and Smith admits that his side have to learn their lesson from that defeat.
“We’ve got to learn our lessons from the last time we played them,” he continued. “We were very open in our defending and they counter attacked very well. All in all they were better than us at the Villa. Park and we’ve got to learn from that.”
Smith is a lifelong Aston Villa fan and recalls being at Wembley for the 1977 League Cup Final as well as the 1994 Final against Manchester United, as Villa denied the Red Devils a domestic treble that year.
“Some of my best memories of watching this football club came in this competition,” he recalled.
“I remember my dad taking me to the 1977 cup final. I know my history about this football club in this competition and I’m excited about leading them in the Semi-Final. Our role now is to create a new history for Aston Villa."
Coverage for tonight’s second Semi-Final at the King Power Stadium will be available via @Carabao_Cup on Twitter and @TheCarabaoCup on Instagram, as Leicester City take on Aston Villa, kick-off 8pm.