Dean Smith has been appointed as the new manager of Norwich City, as the former Aston Villa boss was out of a job for about a week.
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After being sacked by Villa last week, Smith has returned to the Premier League immediately and is charged with keeping the Canaries in the top-flight.
Smith, 50, did just that with Villa two seasons’ ago and many believe his firing by his boyhood club was premature. Norwich have benefited from that and swooped in to sign Smith, as they had previously held talks with Frank Lampard about the vacancy as they fired Daniel Farke.
Speaking about his aims for Norwich as his former assistant Craig Shakespeare will join him, here’s what Smith had to say after signing a two-and-a-half-year contract at Carrow Road:
Smith delighted to be back in the Premier League
“It has been a whirlwind seven days, but I’m really pleased to be back and working for Norwich City in the Premier League. Clearly, there has been some wonderful work that has gone into this football club over last four and a half years. It is now the job of myself and Craig to continue and improve on that work with the ultimate aim of surviving in the Premier League,” Smith said.
“Norwich City is a big club, with a massive hardcore of supporters who are fully understanding in what it means to be part of the club and its community. I was brought up in an era when Norwich were competing in Europe – I remember those times well and whenever I’ve visited Carrow Road and Norwich you can really sense the connection between the fans, staff and players. Together, we all have to make Carrow Road a really tough place for visiting teams.
“From the age of 16 I’ve been working in football. I think in that time I’ve had four months out and didn’t enjoy it. It’s great to get straight back in with a club that are determined to be progressive. I’ve always worked to improve and develop players – with that obviously comes improved performances. I was really impressed with the idea, structure and vision that is already in place at the club.”
Smith praised the work that Sporting Director Stuart Webber has done to develop young players and improve stars they have bought for small fees and then sold on for huge profits.
This seems like a very good fit for all involved.
What will be Smith’s priority at Norwich?
Clearly, they have to become more of an attacking threat.
Norwich are the lowest scorers in the Premier League this season (five goals) and luckily Smith has always been a coach who plays an open, attractive brand of soccer. On paper, Norwich have some attacking talents who can prosper in the PL with Teemu Pukki and Todd Cantwell leading the charge, plus Milot Rashica has also looked sharp.
Smith also proved he can organize a team defensively and even though things dropped off a little at Villa over the last few months, Smith’s three years in charge was a huge success.
Norwich will be hoping he can keep them up this season (they currently sit five points off safety) but this is very much an appointment for next season too. Even if they are relegated, Smith has experience of leading a team to promotion from the Championship.
The Canaries will be tougher to beat and should have more of a creative spark to them under Smith. His first game at home against Southampton (who he lost to in his last game as Aston Villa boss) this Saturday is a great chance for Smith to get off to a flying start at Norwich, then they play Wolves at home and travel to Newcastle.
There’s a chance here for Smith to really hit the ground running.