Dean Smith is a good manager at a club who thought they could beat the system.
As a write this on the train to Sheffield, with a group of excitable young Norwich fans sipping from their first lager cans of the day, it’s difficult to see – on the surface at least – anyone unhappy with the mighty Yellows.
But log onto Twitter or Facebook and a wall of abuse isn’t far away. It’s hard to believe after going nine games unbeaten, how loud the boos have got. Although how much of that frustration at the final whistle against Luton was aimed at the referee, probably depends if you have faith in Dean Smith or not.
For the record, I think he is the best man for the job. Despite the really disappointingly poor run of three straight defeats, this is a management team that has shown enough to deserve a full season in the Championship.
I won’t say his name because we all as fans need to move on and support the current team, but the previous gaffer hid behind words I hate in modern football – philosophy and identity. This is despite an entire season which resulted in a 14th place finish, and then another poor start to the 2018/19 season, which many fans seem to forget.
There seems to be a little rewriting of history, when even a supposed Messiah who won the Championship twice, took more than 12 months to get any forward momentum.
I would also say having Emi Buendia, Oliver Skipp and a prime Teemu Pukki is akin to cheat modes too – all you had to do was put those two or three guys on the pitch, so it’s easy to harp on about style when you had Premier League standard players in the second division.
Dean Smith on the other hand just plays to win. Even if it means playing slightly ugly. He and Shakespeare are flexible and not stubborn, meaning they can and will change their approach depending on the game and the opposition.
We can play multiple formations, and Smith has shown that crucial ability to change a game with subs plenty of times – the great Sunderland away day springs to mind.
I do think we are desperately lacking a winger or two who can provide crosses and a real threat to Josh Sargent, but then again it is my belief that if we could afford it, Christos Tzolis would be playing in the Championship with us and we’d have replaced Onel Hernandez with a younger wide player of genuine quality and end product. (It killed me to write that because we all love you Onel.)
Makes you wonder how much salary Tzolis and Milot Rashica were on per week though.
Financially, we are pretty much screwed if we don’t achieve promotion this year. I will be amazed if Smith is allowed to spend anything again in January, just like he was backed with zero signings last January, and people still say the manager’s the problem and want him sacked.
Are you mad!?
These are the end results of a club that thought it could beat the system, and a Sporting Director who thinks he’s savvier than he actually is.
I can’t even blame Webber too much for our continued stunted growth – he’s done the best with the financial tools provided to him. He’s just had to gamble on young players with potential future sell-on value, or more grizzled players like Tim Krul and Isaac Hayden, who arrive with or off the back of huge injuries, and we attempt some alchemy to realise the value of the player within.
It may yet work with Hayden again, and in the future, but these are all the parameters employees of the club have been forced to operate in, and the sooner fans realise, appreciate, and accept that, the better.
It gives me no pleasure to say that many of the points I made in my MFW column six years ago ring true today, and the way another columnist came in with a “crunching 50/50” tackle to dismiss my points seems nothing more than blind loyalty to his friend Delia in the cold reality of 2022 that says £23m operating loss and £49m total borrowings.
For too long, we’ve ignored the fact that no other club has attempted to be self-funding in the top two divisions because guess what – it’s not possible.
It’s my firm hope that for the continued sustainable future of the club, we stick with Dean Smith, and Delia & Michael sell their shares to someone who can actually afford to help us not just survive but thrive in the Premier League.
That person may already be involved in the club, with Attenasio dispelling the myth that nobody wants to invest in us.
No amount of money will guarantee promotion and survival. A manager has to manage with what he’s got.We blame the quality of the purchases last season but Rashica answer Tzolis looked great at first,then went downhill,as did Normann and now Nunez form has dipped. Sargent has been played out of position despite everyone but Smith knowing his best position. We also knew that we needed a LB and DM before the transfer deadline- but we got Ramsey. We were lucky to beat Sunderland, there have been no dominating performances like the previous promotion seasons. When you look at the form of players like Buendia and Skipp since, it appears that our previous manager was able to get the best out of his players -if only in this division..
Farke was a force for good, yes he had a poor start and eventually got the best out of the players available to him but also got the supporters on his and the teams side.
DS&SS show little interest in getting the supporters on their side if they did possibly they might be given a bit more leeway.
As I said in Martins article there’s none so blind as those that will not see and Smith and Jones don’t want to see the errors of their combined ways.
SW is an egotistical person similar to the Smith’s in as much as he knows better than anyone else but it’s easy using others money.
DS&SS are using city as a stepping stone to get back to a bigger club and like Dyche can’t see they have lost the plot in as much as style and getting supporters all tuned in is the way forward, it’s not about them they have to entertain or face the consequences.
Today or Tuesday could seal their futures
Jon T Wight says
Smith hasn’t been particularly good but let’s not don the rose tinted specs. Farke was one of the worst managers in premier league history. Watching his teams pretend to play football in the top flight was a torrid experience.
You are right yet some of the best premiership managers applauded city style of play even when losing so not Rose tinted we just never could afford the players to take the style forward in the premiership.
David C. says
Sam I think you’re the one slightly mad or was your appraisal of Dean Smith made tongue in cheek? Dean Smith is and has been a poor manager his only success came at Villa only off the back of Jack Grealish much the same as city’s success came from Bwendia and Skipp the subsequent sale of that trio has left both clubs wanting and Smith has been at the helm of both and both teams have gone backwards at a rate of knots. The form of our players has dropped alarmingly, they are playing without the effort and desire to win and to me that means Smith has lost the players and who can blame them. Sam you need to read some of the comments of the Villa fans while they like Smith because he is a Villa fan they didn’t rate him as a coach, full of excuses ” blame the ref” or “blames VAR” or ” blames the opposition tactics” and of course “blames his own players” that last example is sure to get the players backing. No Sam appointing him was a knee jerk reaction from Webber and like most of his ( Webber ) work we’re still paying for that. Aside from Smith (Dean) the rest of your comments were pretty good.
Tim Ball says
I am in your camp; this goes beyond Dean Smith.
The financial reports were shocking. But we cannot have our cake and eat it. We say, “come on Norwich let’s spend the money and give it a go in the EPL for once” And then complain when we do seemingly splash out.
But I think we have a right to at least ask questions regarding how it has been spent. It seems players of the age of 21 and under like Gilmour, Kabak and Williams etc were on something like £50,000 per week😨
Now I applaud the club for actually giving it a go, listen to Talkshi£e and anyone would think we squirreled away all this money for a rainy day. Well, it is raining….again.
But was this the best use of the money. Surely, we should have signed less players, especially so many youngsters but more quality. So, bring in 3 EPL experienced players and maybe pay a bit more than that.
I just feel it would have given us a much better chance than bunging so many young players into a relegation scrap.
I am not speaking after the fact, I said this wasn’t a good idea at the time on here. I also wonder how a lot of the other players who were already at the club felt about these wages. Was this an issue in the Todd Cantwell situation?
I may be totally wrong here and unfortunately that is that is the wage you have to pay in today’s age. But I still think 3 top players on even £100,000 per week (I know it sounds mad) rather than 6 under 21’s would have made better sense.
You hit the nail on the head regarding Emi, Olly and Teemu. To have those players in this EFL championship does feel like a cheat and losing 2 from 3 has proven to be a massive blow. And Dean Smith only has one of them.
Isn’t it ironic that today it has been reported that in the first half against Sheffield United having Isaac Hayden gave us a really good base for Todd, Aaron and others to do their stuff in the attacking areas. Perhaps no surprise we lost that as Isaac understandably tired.
But why did we put all our eggs in one basket for one holding midfielder? we have a plethora of number 10’s and then Smith goes out and gets Ramsey. Don’t get me wrong I have been impressed with young Aaron but was our need for yet another attacking midfielder greater than for a defensive midfield player? I don’t think so.
Personally, I don’t think Dean Smith has been helped enough in the transfer market in his time here by the powers that be. Now we know the extent of the financial hole we have at the club; we also know why poor old Smith had to keep saying in pre-season he was happy with this squad. He had no bl££dy choice.
Had Teemu put away that penalty today we would all be saying, what a great win. It wasn’t Smith who caused Teemu to miss. Sometimes the players have to take the responsibility.
I don’t know who the designated penalty taker was, by all accounts it looked like it was Sarge.
Absolutely no way should Teemu have then taken it off him, when does that situation end well?
It is irrelevant Teemu was on a bloody hat trick, he put so much pressure on himself by taking it off Sarge I thought he is going to miss this bu££ar. ACN.
And you are correct regarding Stuart Webber, this situation isn’t all his fault either. (However, read Michael Bailey’s article on our recruitment last summer and our Stuart did make some ill-judged decisions)
No, it has to be the majority shareholders. If we are having to pay £50,000 per week to 21-year olds to play for us in the EPL then our present owners are way out of their depth financially.
David C. says
Tim since when has Sargent been our penalty taker? from memory Pukki has done the job previously and mostly successfully. I too have to agree with you about how Webber wasted money on all those transfers instead instead of getting less but more in quality
Tim Ball says
That is why I was so surprised that Josh was taking it David.
When I heard Sarge was taking it I thought Teemu must have been substituted. My mates at the game were adamant Josh was going to take. Strange one.
It may have been a bit naughty from Josh? Trying to get to take it.
And Dean Smith love him or loath him hasn’t had anywhere near the help that Daniel Farke had that last year. Well theoretically, it didn’t turn out that way sadly because the money wasn’t spent wisely.
Good comments there Tim, I got swiftly hounded on Twitter when I suggested Pukki had “stole” the penalty off Sargent. But apparently it is a genuine tactic now, for someone else to grab the ball and take the pressure off the designated taker. Didn’t work did it?
Like you say, Pukki scores the pen and everyone is raving about a fantastic away win.
In other words Tim, look at what Brentford did/are doing…….
Given our much bigger support, how have they left us so far behind them??
As for promotion this time around, if the money has already been spent, how will we strengthen next summer?
O T B C
Tim Ball says
I meant to say that in my reply above John. Spot on.
Brentford were drawing with Chelsea while we were losing to Luton. Says it all.