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Can Dean Smith save Norwich City from relegation?

24 November 2021 | Premier League | Opinion
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Can Dean Smith save Norwich City from relegation?
Christopher Keeley / Shutterstock.com

Norwich City finally parted ways with long-standing manager Daniel Farke before the international break, ending his four-and-a-half-year reign at Carrow Road.

Although the Canaries picked up their first Premier League win of the season against Brentford, the hierarchy clearly believed that Farke was unable to turn things around.

Merely a week after getting sacked by Aston Villa following a run of five straight defeats, Dean Smith was appointed as Farke’s successor.

On Saturday, Smith won his first game as Norwich manager – overseeing a 2-1 comeback victory over Southampton at Carrow Road.

Now, the question on everyone’s lips is: can he save the club from relegation?

There is no hiding from the fact that Norwich made a terrible start to the season. They failed to win any of their first ten league games, recording two draws and eight losses in the process.

It is also worth noting that the Canaries are the lowest scorers in the division, and they also have the joint-worst defensive record.

Yet, crucially, they find themselves just three points from safety. They are by no means in a healthy position, but they have plenty of time to turn things around.

In Smith, Norwich now have a manager with an impressive track record in both the Premier League and Championship.

After cutting his teeth at Walsall and Brentford, the 50-year-old established himself as one of the best British managers in the game at Aston Villa.

Not only did he guide Villa back to the top flight via the playoffs in his first campaign, but he did so by overseeing a club record ten-game winning streak at the end of the season.

Having narrowly avoided relegation the season before last, Smith led Villa to a respectable eleventh-place finished last term.

Although his reign at Villa Park ended with five consecutive losses, there is a sense that his sacking was harsh – given what he has done for the club.

There is no denying that Norwich’s squad is weaker than Villa’s, but Smith still has a number of top players at his disposal.

With Teemu Pukki leading the line, Billy Gilmour and Todd Cantwell in midfield, and Max Aarons and Brandon Williams on either flank, the Canaries are no pushovers.

Of course, it will always be difficult for Norwich to compete with the Premier League’s big boys. The club operates on a totally different level to the majority of sides in the division.

But if Smith can get the best out of his players, he has both the managerial and coaching ability to save the Canaries from the dreaded drop.

Premier League
OVERALL TABLE PTS GP W D L GF GA +/-
1
Manchester City 35 15 11 2 2 32 9 23
2
Liverpool 34 15 10 4 1 44 12 32
3
Chelsea 33 15 10 3 2 35 9 26
4
West Ham 27 15 8 3 4 28 19 9
5
Tottenham 25 14 8 1 5 16 17 -1
6
Manchester United 24 15 7 3 5 25 24 1
7
Arsenal 23 15 7 2 6 18 22 -4
8
Wolverhampton 21 15 6 3 6 12 13 -1
9
Brighton 20 15 4 8 3 14 16 -2
10
Aston Villa 19 15 6 1 8 21 24 -3
11
Leicester City 19 15 5 4 6 23 27 -4
12
Everton 18 15 5 3 7 19 25 -6
13
Brentford 17 15 4 5 6 19 21 -2
14
Crystal Palace 16 15 3 7 5 19 21 -2
15
Leeds United 16 15 3 7 5 15 22 -7
16
Southampton 16 15 3 7 5 14 21 -7
17
Watford 13 15 4 1 10 20 29 -9
18
Burnley 10 14 1 7 6 14 21 -7
19
Newcastle United 10 15 1 7 7 17 30 -13
20
Norwich City 10 15 2 4 9 8 31 -23

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