Maher believes that the Villa boss is still one or two midfielders short of having a midfield selection he can be happy with.
The journalist analysed the current players Smith has available to him as Villa look to improve on last season’s 11th-place finish.
Maher believes that Villa’s midfield struggled for large parts as he name-dropped Ross Barkley and his disappointing campaign as one of those who should have done better.
Speaking on the Express and Star YouTube channel, he had this to say on Smith’s midfield options:
“I think at times, particularly in the second half of the season, it was a bit of a problem area, the blend perhaps wasn’t quite right. And it took them a while to kind of get that back. You’re struggling to find a midfielder who’s had a really outstanding season.
“Obviously, the signing of Ross Barkley was seen as a bit of a statement before the season, but it didn’t really quite hit the heights that he promised.
“It’s probably going to be an area of interest this summer. You feel they’re just maybe one or two players away in midfield from getting where they really kind of want to be.”
TIF Thoughts on Aston Villa’s midfield choices…
As mentioned by Maher, Barkley was obviously one of Aston Villa’s biggest disappointments this season as he failed to live up to the standards he set in his early games at Villa Park.
After a promising start to his Villa career, Barkley failed to score or assist in the league from the end of January, as Smith’s side faded away after a strong start to the campaign.
January signing Morgan Sanson didn’t feature as frequently as he would have liked, as he only featured nine times since he signed from Marseille.