Shakespeare joins Villa as club bolsters backroom team

Craig Shakespeare played alongside Dean Smith at Walsall in 1989

Craig Shakespeare played alongside Dean Smith at Walsall in 1989

CRAIG SHAKESPEARE has been appointed assistant manager by Aston Villa as the club looks to add “Premier League know-how” ahead of the 2020/21 season.

Since surviving relegation on the last day of 2019/20, Villa have undergone a backroom overhaul. Johan Lange replaced Jesus Garcia Pitarch as Sporting Director at the end of July and Rob Mackenzie has joined from Belgian side Leuven as Head of Recruitment.

Shakespeare was assistant to Claudio Ranieri when Leicester won the Premier League title in 2016 and replaced the Italian in the hotseat for four-and-a-half months in 2017.

He has been an assistant with Everton, England and most recently Watford, who sacked him last month along with manager Nigel Pearson. The 56-year-old grew up in Birmingham and played alongside Villa boss Dean Smith for a brief period at Walsall in 1989, with the duo remaining friends since then.

"I was keen to add some additional Premier League know-how onto my coaching team and Craig certainly has that in abundance,” Smith said.

"He's a vastly experienced coach who will add another dimension to our team. I've known Craig for many years since our Walsall playing days and I'm really looking forward to working with him."

Shakespeare joins current assistants John Terry and Richard O'Kelly - neither of whom had experienced the Premier League as coaches until this season. During his time at Leicester, he worked alongside Mackenzie, who has joined the Villains as Head of Recruitment.

Mackenzie was Head of Technical Scouting for the Foxes when they won the Premier League, having joined in 2009 as a performance analyst. He has also worked for Tottenham and Derby and had been Head of Recruitment for Belgian side Leuven since January 2018.

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