Daniel Farke’s reign as manager of Norwich was interesting to say the least. Where Farke excelled in the Championship, he just couldn’t inspire the players to replicate the same kind of form in the highest division of English soccer. Farke took charge of Norwich in 2017 and it paid dividends the following season when he lead his side to a 1st place finish in the league, earning promotion. The Premier League is a tough division, however, and under his leadership Norwich went straight back down. The Championship seems like it was made for Farke though! Leading his team to an immediate return in the 20/21 season. This season didn’t begin well for Farke though, again. It seems that Farke just struggles to get the best out of his players in this league and perhaps different leadership was needed to try and avoid another consecutive relegation. This is where Dean Smith comes in! The question is however, does he have what it takes to keep Norwich City in the Premier League?
One thing a manager needs to truly lead a team at the highest level, is experience. This works in Smith’s favor, for sure. Not only did he have a solid career in league football, but he also broke into management in 2011 with Walsall. If anything, Smith’s incredible rise shows how the grit and grind can reward you handsomely. Smith had a reasonable start to club management with Walsall and showed that he wasn’t afraid to make difficult choices. In the summer of 2011, Smith released 14 first team players. This might seem drastic, but if the players really aren’t up to scratch, why keep them? Smith eventually left Walsall for pastures new in 2015 when Brentford came calling, depsite Walsall sitting fourth in the league.
It was at Brentford that Smith gained more attention. He didn’t exactly compete for the highest of honors, but he caught attention for some smart transfer moves and playing an extremely entertaining type of passing-play on a tiny budget. You could say that he laid the foundations for Brentford’s eventual promotion years later. Nonetheless, he was highly regarded in the Championship and eventually Aston Villa came calling.
Smith at Villa in 18/19 must be seen as one of the best campaigns from an incoming manager. Having come to the club in October with Villa sitting 14th, together with assistant manager John Terry he managed to record such stats with Villa such as 10 consecutive wins and overseeing 18 wins, eventually finishing 5th and winning the playoffs against Derby County. It can only be judged as remarkable improving a team this significantly in such a short time, and it would be Dean Smith’s first season managing in the Premier League. Despite all the hype, and some serious spending on squad improvements (£144.5 million to bring in 12 players), Smith’s Villa only survived by the skin of their teeth the following season, finishing 17th. Maybe it was the influx of too many new players at once? Chemistry is everything between players, and it often takes time to build up and understanding. The following season Villa spent big again, bringing in players such as Matty Cash, Ollie Watkins, Emiliano Martinez and Bertrand Traore for a combined fee of over £75 million. This season saw significant improvements as Smith steered Villa to an eventual 9th place finish; impressive.
So how has Smith ended up at Norwich? Well after Villa sold superstar player Jack Grealish, they replaced him with 3 players: Buendia, Bailey and Ings. Whatever the case, Villa started this season below-par, missing the certain dazzle that Grealish provides. After 5 consecutive losses, Villa bosses had enough and harshly fired Smith, even though the situation was quite reparable. Nonetheless, Villa’s loss is certainly Norwich’s gain. There is no better manager for Norwich right this second. What they need is someone with experience in the football league, a nice style of football and the grit of fighting relegation (and surviving!). Norwich have a decent squad, and if Smith can get striker Pukki scoring and utilize some of the talent that the squad possesses, survival could be a sure thing.
Can Smith Do It?
Early indications look good for Smith, and we think he can certainly do it. Farke left Norwich on the back of their first win of the season, which Smith built on with a consecutive win against Southampton. Since then, a respectable draw against Wolverhampton Wanderers has seen Norwich playing an impressive style of football already. If Smith can build some momentum, Norwich should easily survive this season and perhaps finally establish themselves as a full-time English Premier League side.