Smith vows to take Villa hero Jack Grealish out on the lash before opening talks on Man Utd transfer target’s future

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ECSTATIC Dean Smith vowed to go out on the lash with Jack Grealish to toast Aston Villa’s Premier League Great Escape.

And the Villa boss will meet with club owners on Monday to thrash out the future of their inspirational captain.

Grealish, a £70million target for Manchester United, scored in the 1-1 draw at West Ham as they secured their top-flight status.

Smith – who has never been relegated as a manager – said: “We’ll go out and get drunk together.

“I said to Jack he’d come to the party and score. He has been getting better and better. He has come good when he needed to.

“It will all be sorted over the next month. I’m certainly hopeful (he’ll play again). He’s contracted for another three or four years.

“I’ve said many times before we have billionaire owners – if people want to come in and get the best player, it’ll cost an awful lot of money.

“Jack’s an Aston Villa fan, he will be immensely proud that he scored the goal that managed to keep us in the Premier League.

“I’ll sit down with the sporting director, the CEO and the owners on Monday. Let’s enjoy this. It’s a magnificent achievement.”

Villa, who spent £140m in transfers since promotion, entered lockdown in 19th place following a 4-0 thumping at Leicester City in March.

The Midlanders spent five months in the relegation zone but a key victory over Arsenal elevated them above relegated Bournemouth and Watford.

Much has been of the Villa Park goalless draw secured against Sheffield United at the start of Project Restart.

Villa should have lost that game but Goal Line Technology and ref Michael Oliver’s watch failed to detect a clear United goal.

Asked what he would say to anyone recalling that moment, Smith said: “Go watch the 94th minute at Crystal Palace. Things happen.

If people want to come in and get the best player, it’ll cost an awful lot of money.

“Referee Kevin Friend has blown a whistle when we have scored a goal. It should have been a penalty or a goal. We got neither.”

It had been a difficult time for the Smith family as his father Ron, a lifelong Villa fan and ex-steward, passed away aged 79 during lockdown after contracting Covid-19.

Smith, 49, said: “My whole family watched it all together, apart from my boy who is in the States.

“They are immensely proud, it’s an unbelievable achievement, it means more than it did last season getting promoted. This is a huge achievement.

“It’s been an emotional period because I lost my father during the pandemic to Coronavirus.

“I have the ‘Holte Enders in the Sky’ badge on in honour of him. He will be looking down on us for sure.

“Condolences to Watford and Bournemouth. I can only imagine how they feel now.

“We used the pandemic the better. We had been written off by everybody. We were relegated after walking off the pitch against Leicester.

“We now look like we have a culture, but it takes time. People look at the money we spent, but it was about £9.5m per player, which in the Premier League is nothing.”

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