Dean Smith wasn’t out of the job for long. Just seven days after he had been sacked by Aston Villa, the 50-year-old was announced as new manager of Norwich City, following the departure of Daniel Farke from Carrow Road. Having been gearing himself up to turn around Villa’s season, Smith now has the difficult job of keeping bottom-of-the-table Norwich in the Premier League, but it’s clear that he’s relishing the challenge.
“We’ve got 27 games left in the Premier League, so there’s a lot of points to play for and we’re just on the back of a win,” Smith said.“I’ve seen how progressive this club has been. Yes, it’s been difficult in the Premier League so far. Mine and Craig [Shakespeare’s] job, along with the rest of the staff and Stuart [Webber], is to keep us in the league season and that’s firmly what we believe we can do.”
The scale of the challenge is clear for all to see. Upon Smith’s appointment Norwich had just defeated Brentford, which was their first win of the Premier League season, giving an indication of just how far off the pace the Canaries were under Farke. Smith has been brought in to try and fight the fires, butit’ll be a tall order to defy the football betting odds and keep them in the division.
The important thing is that Smith does not appear to be a short-term appointment. Whilst his main aim will be to try and save Norwich from relegation this season, he’ll be well-placed to guide them in the Championship should they be unable to avoid the drop.
Smith has plenty of experience in the second tier, having coached Brentford before steering Aston Villa to promotion in 2019, and there’s no doubt that his Championship knowhow contributed to the decision to bring him to the club.
Smith is a coach who knows what he wants from his players, and you can bet that there will be a surge in terms of Norwich’s performances over the coming weeks. He is renowned as a great man-manager, and perhaps what the squad really need is someone who can inspire confidence within the group. The win against Brentford will have given both players and supporters belief that this group of players could yet mount a recovery.
On a personal level, Smith will want to prove a point. He clearly felt that he would have been able to put things right at Villa if he’d been given the time, and if he could manage to save Norwich from the drop and establish them as a Premier League outfit, there might well be some red faces in the West Midlands.
Norwich are a forward-thinking club, with plenty of players that have lots of potential, and Smith is perfectly suited to leading the club forward. You never know, with a few wins under their belt the Canaries might just start to sing.
“I think there is enough quality [in the squad],” Smith added.“I’ve looked at the squad with Craig [Shakespeare] and we both believe it’s a squad that probably isn’t producing the results they need. Our job is to improve their performance levels, if we do that then we’ll get the results.”