On the one-year anniversary of his Aston Villa tenure, manager Dean Smith has waxed lyrical about his time at Villa Park so far, saying he has enjoyed every moment of it - with one notable exception.
A year ago today, Villa recruited Smith from Brentford, with John Terry as his assistant, following the West Midlands club's sacking of Steve Bruce a week earlier after a run of one win in nine Championship games.
The lifelong Villa fan took some time to work his magic at B6 as the club ended up dealing with an injury crisis at the back but an inspired January transfer window and the return of Jack Grealish proved the catalyst for a superb late run of wins and an eventual playoff finish.
Villa's return to the Premier League was subsequently sealed with playoff victories over West Bromwich Albion in the semi-finals and Derby County at Wembley Stadium, and following a wholesale bolstering of the ranks in the summer, the squad looks very much at home back in the top flight.
The road back to the top table was not entirely smooth, however, with one particular result in January being described by Smith as "the bottom of where I've been so far in my managerial career" (BBC Sport) - the 3-0 defeat away at Wigan Athletic.
On that day, the Latics dominated and were rewarded when Gary Roberts thumped home on 41 minutes, and even though Villa made a triple change on 63 minutes, the hosts wrapped up the victory thanks to a Michael Jacobs header and a Joe Garner penalty which meant the visitors had won just one of their past eight games in all competitions.
Reminiscing about his year at B6 with the Villa media team, Smith said: "It’s gone very quick. I didn’t realise the year was coming up. But it’s been very enjoyable. I have enjoyed every moment of it to be honest – except Wigan away!"
Villa currently sit 15th in the Premier League table with eight points from eight games and went into the international break on the back of a 5-1 hammering of fellow 2018-19 promotees Norwich City.
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