July 4, 2020 / 5:58 AM / a month ago

Smith backs struggling Villa to achieve 'Mission Impossible'

Soccer Football - Premier League - Aston Villa v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Villa Park, Birmingham, Britain - June 27, 2020 Aston Villa manager Dean Smith, as play resumes behind closed doors following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Tim Keeton/Pool via REUTERS/Files

(Reuters) - Aston Villa manager Dean Smith has backed his struggling team to pull off “Mission Impossible” by getting a result at champions Liverpool on Sunday and boost their hopes of staying in the Premier League.

“People will see our game at Liverpool as Mission Impossible - unfortunately we haven’t got Tom Cruise with us but I’ve got 11 players and I’ve seen a desire in their eyes,” Smith told reporters ahead of the clash at Anfield.

Villa are 18th in the league with 27 points from 32 matches, having won only seven matches in the current campaign despite spending close to 150 million pounds ($187.25 million) to overhaul their squad during the close season.

The 1-0 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers last week was their 19th of the campaign, with Villa seeking their first win since the league restarted following the COVID-19 stoppage.

“They feel stung by criticism, you’re going to get criticism when you’re in a position we’re in. Their job is to prove people wrong. Without a doubt, we’ve seen a better Villa after the break,” Smith added.

“The points tally hasn’t shown that, we played Wolves last week and they’re pushing for the Champions League... there was nothing between the two teams. The only quality on show was the goal.

“If we manage to stay up this season, which I believe we will, there’ll be a better Villa next year. I’ve still not been relegated as a manager and don’t expect to be this season.”

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Schmollinger

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