Norwich City have confirmed the appointment of Dean Smith as their new manager. The Premier League’s bottom club reached an agreement with Smith after a weekend of negotiations and he has set his sights on avoiding relegation.
Norwich sacked Daniel Farke on 6 November and a day later Smith was dismissed by Aston Villa. Norwich have struggled since winning promotion last season and have given Smith, who has been joined by his assistant Craig Shakespeare, a two-and-a-half-year contract.
“It has been a whirlwind seven days but I’m really pleased to be back and working for Norwich City in the Premier League,” Smith said. “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.
“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.”
Smith starts with a game at home to Southampton on Saturday. He has an impressive CV and convinced Norwich with his vision for the club during negotiations. The 50-year-old had spells at Brentford and Walsall before being appointed by Villa in October 2018. He made an instant impact at Villa Park, lifting his boyhood club back into the Premier League at the end of his first season.
Villa won promotion by beating Derby in the 2019 play-off final and Smith led his side to safety in their first season back in the top flight. He lifted them to 11th place last season but lost his job after making a disappointing start to the current campaign. Villa struggled after selling Jack Grealish to Manchester City and Smith was fired after five successive defeats.
However, his coaching credentials are not in doubt and Norwich, five points below 17th-placed Watford, need someone to rouse them after an awful run of form. They have won only once in the league this season, beating Brentford. Farke was sacked after that win.
Norwich, who also held talks with Frank Lampard, will need Smith to stiffen their defence and give them more ideas in attack. They will hope that he brings more out of Billy Gilmour – the Scotland midfielder has made little impact since joining Norwich from Chelsea on loan. Todd Cantwell will also be hoping that Smith brings him back into the fold. The highly rated 23-year-old forward has made only five appearances this season.