Aston Villa are a shadow of the team that beat Manchester United at Old Trafford just over six weeks ago, according to the Express & Star journalist Luke Hatfield.
On Sunday, Dean Smith was relieved of his duties as manager after just over three years in charge at Villa Park, and Hatfield has hinted that this could be due to how far the side have slipped in a relatively short period of time.
What's happened at Aston Villa since that Old Trafford win?
When Villa beat United in the final week of September, it was their second win on the bounce, and left them in eighth position after six matches. The side appeared to be coming together nicely, and looked ready to mount a challenge for a European spot this term.
That victory proved to be a false dawn, though. Smith's men went on to lose all four of their top-flight fixtures in October, which included a derby defeat against Wolves and a humbling home loss to West Ham to close out the month.
They may have hoped to turn things around at Southampton last Friday to head into the international break on a high, but an early Adam Armstrong goal consigned them to a 1-0 defeat. With no points on the board from their last five games, Villa's owners stepped in over the weekend to show Smith the exit door.
What has Hatfield said about Villa's recent form?
Hatfield has admitted that the current side are barely recognisable from the one that took all three points from the 'Theatre of Dreams'.
He told GIVEMESPORT: “They look a million miles away from the team that beat Manchester United 1-0 at Old Trafford, and they played so well that day.”
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How do Villa get back to their best?
Villa's drop-off over the last six weeks has ultimately cost Smith his job. The 50-year-old can hold his head high after taking the Midlands club back to the Premier League, and re-establishing them in the top-flight.
However, there were some rather strange decisions towards the end of his time at the helm. From switching between formations, to dropping his captain Tyrone Mings against West Ham, it was not easy to tell exactly what the plan was for Villa to win football matches.
The next boss must come in and implement their philosophy straight away to give the team an identity that is clear to see. That way, players will know their roles and how they fit into the setup, which ought to give the side a better chance of getting back on track and becoming tough to beat once more.
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