How Norwich City’s chase for Dean Smith went – .

How Norwich City’s chase for Dean Smith went – .

Norwich City have their new head coach in place, but the process of getting Dean Smith to Norfolk has been an international story of negotiation and patience.


Sporting director Stuart Webber has reportedly decided a change was needed after the 2-1 home loss to Leeds late last month. A tenth consecutive Premier League game without a win led Webber to inform City’s board that he thought it was time for a change.

Having secured that approval the morning of the next game – no doubt with a heavy heart – Webber was then waiting to speak to Farke in the dressing room after a 2-1 win at Brentford.

What made this conversation all the more difficult was that Canaries players and staff celebrated with traveling fans in West London after relieving some pressure, with Farke able to enjoy his waves of celebration. emblematic.

The German ended his media duties but then received the news he had dreaded since a 7-0 implosion at Chelsea a fortnight earlier, despite signing a four-year contract in July.

With assistant Eddie Riemer, trainer and analyst Christopher John and fitness boss Chris Domogalla, more than four years at the helm of City’s first team were over, with two memorable league wins to treasure from their stay. in England.

Returning to Norfolk separately from the team’s coach players, who had been briefed on the news by Webber prior to their departure, Farke and his team met the team in Colney for a final reunion and some loving farewell before the departure of players on vacation. or international service the next day.


The available Frank Lampard was quickly installed as a favorite by bookies and rising Bodo Glimt coaching star Kjetil Knutsen also received strong support, appearing to fit the mold of a Webber contender perfectly before retaining the title in Norway.

Former City players Russell Martin and Mark Robins were also among the early favorites, but none were reportedly counted. Less than 24 hours after Farke’s sacking, another name entered the mix: Dean Smith.

Sacked by Aston Villa after a fifth consecutive defeat, he had seen a good start to the campaign slip to 16th place and 10 points in 11 matches. After three years at the helm of his childhood club which included play-off glory, two top-flight survival seasons and a League Cup final, would the 50-year-old be interested in recovering? directly at work?

As Smith planned to fly to New York to see his son, Jamie, who studies and plays football in North Carolina, Webber had to move quickly to find the answer.

Smith met Webber and assistant athletic director Neil Adams on Tuesday before flying to the United States, and the first comments were good from a man the town leader had long admired for his skills as a coach. coach and his personality.

Inevitably though, with his exit from Villa so fresh, more talks were needed and some time to consider options was needed for both sides. A big decision was in sight.


The Canaries had initial talks with Chelsea and England legend Frank Lampard
– Credit: PA

Discussions were also held with former Chelsea and Derby boss Lampard, also bringing an international touch while on vacation in Dubai. It is believed that initial talks with other candidates took place as well, but Smith was quickly in pole position.

However, with a Premier League and England legend involved, the media coverage was widely aired on national channels.

On Thursday morning, Villa had brought in Steven Gerrard from Rangers to replace Smith and Lampard was also among the favorites for the vacant position in Glasgow. However, within hours TalkSport was reporting that the Chelsea icon would be Norwich’s new boss.

With the 43-year-old uncle, former Tottenham boss Harry Redknapp, a regular expert on the radio station, it seemed likely their sources were quite reliable.

No, it seems. Sky Sports managed to get their hands on the more accurate narrative, which in fact Smith had completely impressed with his in-depth knowledge of the Canaries and their playing team.

Knutsen is also reportedly still in the running, but with reports in Norway suggesting that no contact had been made with Bodo Glimt, it appears that imminent title success and an active Europa Conference League campaign meant the timing hadn’t worked.


Dean Smith’s assistant Craig Shakespeare found success in Leicester
– Credit: PA

As talks continued, the momentum was with Smith, with City in an awkward negotiating position as the Premier League’s bottom club who are unlikely to be able to offer a huge amount of money to spend. during the January transfer window.

At 3 p.m. on Friday, the Lampard camp moved to make it known that their man was dropping the candidacy for the vacant post, with messages sent to several high-profile journalists. It was public play via the media though. In private, the wheels were already moving.

With Smith signaling that he was ready to return straight to the action and with assistant Craig Shakespeare ready to go with him, City had an experienced duo with a point to prove that valued the overall project at Carrow Road.

All that remained was to work out the final details with the new men over the weekend, slightly complicated by the fact that Smith was still in the United States with a five-hour time difference.

This precluded the making of official club photos and video interviews ahead of Monday’s 8am announcement, with remaining contract details preventing an announcement on Sunday.

Smith will return to the UK on Tuesday and is ready for his first full day in charge on Wednesday, with many City players returning to full training from Tuesday.

It is understood that goalkeeper coach Ed Wootten will likely stay in place and other coaching appointments could come from internal promotions, with City’s philosophy of developing both playing and coaching skills. Wootten, for example, was promoted from the academy ranks as Dean Kiely’s replacement in 2017.

Those final details will be confirmed in the days and weeks to come, but the priority for the ex-Brentford manager now is getting into the Lotus Training Center with his new squad.

He held a video call with senior executives on Sunday night as plans were put in place, with many similar calls no doubt planned before meeting up completely on Wednesday.

Todd Cantwell is expected to return to contention after being left out recently and is sure to be one of the players Smith wants to speak with.

The influential trio of Teemu Pukki, Max Aarons and Mathias Normann are the last of the international contingent in action on Tuesday and are therefore expected to resume training at Colney on Thursday at the latest.

As the team come together and try to impress the new boss, Southampton’s arrival at Carrow Road on Saturday is full steam ahead and a chance for Smith to quickly avenge the 1-0 loss to the Saints that sealed his fate de Villa – to launch his new project in the best possible style.

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