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.