MLS

Charlotte boss Dean Smith still driven by determination to ‘prove people wrong’

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Dean Smith wants to defy the doubters after rejecting opportunities to coach in the Championship to start a new chapter with ambitious Major League Soccer side Charlotte FC.

The 52-year-old returned to management in December, having just fallen short in his attempt to keep Leicester up during a short spell in the hot seat at the end of last season.

Smith takes charge of his first competitive match since the Foxes’ final Premier League game when Charlotte host New York City FC in their MLS opener this weekend.

The former Aston Villa boss beat England great Frank Lampard to the job and more than 60,000 will be at Bank of America Stadium for his first game in the dugout.

“I’d spoken to a few clubs in the UK, mainly Championship clubs,” Smith told the PA news agency.

“None of them felt quite right for me, so it was all about what the next opportunity was going to be.

“When this came about and I got asked if I wanted to join in the process, I just thought it’d be a challenge, it’d be exciting.

“It would get the juices flowing again, so to speak, because it’s something that I’ve not done before, never been out of the UK to coach and I thought it’d be really good challenge.”

 

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Charlotte FC (@charlottefc)

 

Smith joins a club entering their third MLS season, with former Premier League players Ashley Westwood and Scott Arfield among those in Charlotte’s squad.

Leicester fan favourite Christian Fuchs serves as one of his assistants, having retired in North Carolina and joined the coaching staff after skippering the team during their first campaign.

Smith joins them in Charlotte with a determination to help the team grow and improve on last season’s wildcard defeat at the start of the MLS play-offs.

“I think one of my drivers has always been to prove people wrong and try and get to that next level all the time,” the former Norwich, Brentford and Walsall manager said.

“I was fortunate enough to coach Brentford and build a team that Thomas (Frank) eventually took over and ended up getting into the Premier League.

“But also taking Aston Villa to the Premier League, I’m really proud of that because in 2010, 2011, I was coaching at Walsall, the under-14s, and my daughter was sitting on the side of the pitch doing her homework.

“So, you know, it’s been hard work to get where I am.”

Smith’s determination brings hope to Charlotte, who still have room to sprinkle stardust on their side by signing a marquee player over the coming months.

Put to Smith that Jack Grealish, his skipper at Villa, could do with a few starts right now, he laughed and said: “Yeah, I still speak to Jack very regularly.

“He’s just coming back from an injury. But he’s not done bad already at Manchester City and he’ll continue to do so, and England in the Euros.

“But, yes, we’re looking to add some quality into the squad. When I looked at the squad during this process, I just felt that there were areas that we could improve on.”

Related items

  • Nottingham Forest’s response to VAR controversy ‘too emotional’ – Stuart Broad Nottingham Forest’s response to VAR controversy ‘too emotional’ – Stuart Broad

    Former England bowler Stuart Broad has criticised Nottingham Forest’s response to the VAR controversy at Sunday’s Premier League match against Everton as “slightly too emotional”.

    Broad, the second-highest England Test wicket-taker, was made a CBE for services to cricket during a ceremony at Windsor Castle on Tuesday, and is a long-time fan of the football club.

    Following Forest’s 2-0 loss at Everton, the club risked Football Association and Premier League sanction over their extraordinary response to three rejected penalty appeals.

    In a statement on Sunday, the club said there had been “three extremely poor decisions – three penalties not given – which we simply cannot accept”, adding: “We warned the PGMOL (Professional Game Match Officials Limited) that the VAR is a Luton fan before the game, but they didn’t change him.”

    On Tuesday, it was announced that the club would be given the opportunity to privately hear the VAR audio connected to the three penalty claims.

    When asked about his thoughts on the VAR incident, Broad said: “Obviously, there’s been some natural frustration from everyone at Nottingham Forest: owners, players, manager fans, supporters, my friendship group are frustrated.

    “I think it’s not just from the weekend, I think the frustration is built over the season, to be honest, from the decisions that the club have had.

    “I think the statement straight after the game was probably quite emotional and maybe slightly misaligned with how the club would normally operate.”

    Referring to the club’s statement on X, formerly Twitter, in which they claimed VAR Stuart Attwell “was a Luton fan”, Broad said: “Personally, I think that’s got nothing to do with the decision-making. I think it was just poor decision-making.

    He continued: “I don’t mind the club showing emotion and passion because ultimately, that’s what sport’s about, but I think some of the words were slightly too emotional.”

    Broad, 37, announced he was retiring from cricket during the fifth Ashes Test last summer and bowed out in spectacular fashion.

    He hit a six off his final ball and took the final wicket as England won the match to level the series, although Australia retained the urn.

    He came second in the public vote for the BBC’s 2023 Sports Personality of the Year in December and has been focusing on fatherhood and television punditry.

    After the ceremony he said retirement had been “scary” but that he wanted to continue to “stay connected” to the sport.

    When asked what was next, Broad said: “I want to stay in the game.

    “It’s a great hobby of mine, it’s probably something I know the most about in the world, in my world, so I want to be able to share that feedback, whether that’s coaching, whether that’s punditry and commentary that I enjoy.

    “But stay connected to the game, you know, I love it.”

  • I don’t expect political statements from Germany team -Thomas Hitzlsperger I don’t expect political statements from Germany team -Thomas Hitzlsperger

    German players are unlikely to make any major political statements at Euro 2024 after their World Cup protest in Qatar was met with a tepid domestic reception, ex-international Thomas Hitzlsperger has predicted.

    Seven European nations at the 2022 global showpiece – including England – initially planned to wear ‘OneLove’ anti-discrimination armbands but were dissuaded following the threat of sporting sanctions from FIFA.

    Instead, the Germans covered their mouths for a World Cup team photograph in protest, while the tournament remained overshadowed by the host nation’s record on human rights, from its treatment of migrant workers to the criminalisation of same-sex relationships.

    Hitzlsperger, who bookended his playing career with spells at Aston Villa and Everton and a decade ago became the first former Premier League player to come out as gay, said: “It ended for the German team not in a good way. Funnily enough, back home a lot of people criticised it whereas abroad it was seen as a big statement.

    “After the tournament, some of the representatives of the German national team just said, ‘look, at the Euros we talk about football, nothing else’. So I don’t expect much from the team similar to the World Cup.

    “I think the England team were the first ones to play, and they decided against the One Love armband. A lot of the German players, they felt a responsibility, they felt ‘we’ve got to make a statement’.

    “They couldn’t rely on the other teams. I think there were seven teams in the end that tried to stick together and wear the armband, and then they all collapsed, basically. And that’s when the Germans were like, ‘We still have to do something’.”

    The former midfielder, who is now serving as an ambassador for this summer’s tournament in his home country, agrees that Germany’s poor showing likely influenced negative sentiment around the protest.

    He said: “Football can be brutal. If you win, you set the tone and whatever you do it’s accepted and people look up to you. If you don’t win, you lose football matches, then you better not say anything.”

    Even before the tournament, said the 42-year-old, the German public was already divided over whether or not the national team – or anyone – had a responsibility to act.

    “It was a very difficult debate and it never came to a conclusion,” said Hitzlsperger.

    “Some said it’s too much politics, others said it was right what we did, and that’s where we ended. That was our opportunity to say ‘we’re hosting a European Championship, let’s have a really good time together’, talk about responsibility when it comes to sustainability but don’t teach the world what to do.”

    Organisers hope the tournament itself will instead do the talking, with ambitions to become be the most sustainable European Championship of all time through the use of entirely pre-existing stadia run by 100 per cent renewable energy sources, a zoned match schedule reducing travel distances for teams and fans, and the creation of a climate fund dedicated to projects focused on mitigating tournament-related unavoidable emissions.

    It is also the second major football tournament, following in the footsteps of last summer’s Women’s World Cup, to sign a human rights declaration.

    UEFA has stated EURO 2024 “embraces gender identities and expressions as a spectrum that is not limited to a binary concept”, with gender-neutral toilets available at all venues and similarly neutral lanes outside the stadia to accommodate a range of gender expressions for procedures like body checks.

    Ultimately, says Hitzlsperger, “the German FA, UEFA, the German government and the foreign ministry, (will do) everything we can do, without putting the team under too much pressure to say ‘every game you have to make a statement’.

    “You have to know who is responsible for what, and unfortunately what happened in Qatar really made the players aware of the consequences if you take a stance on human rights.”

  • Feyenoord coach Arne Slot in contention to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool Feyenoord coach Arne Slot in contention to replace Jurgen Klopp at Liverpool

    Feyenoord coach Arne Slot has emerged as a leading candidate to succeed Jurgen Klopp when he leaves as Liverpool manager at the end of the campaign.

    Slot guided the Dutch club to their first title in six years last season and currently has them in second place in the Eredivisie table having won the Dutch Cup at the weekend.

    The PA news agency understands Liverpool consider Slot to fit all the criteria set out in their recruitment process, although they are still looking at other contenders.

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.