Dean Smith: The biggest challenges facing new Norwich head coach

Smith been appointed as the new head coach of Norwich

Pa Sport Staff
Monday 15 November 2021 08:28
Dean Smith succeeds Daniel Farke (Nick Potts/PA)
Dean Smith succeeds Daniel Farke (Nick Potts/PA)

Dean Smith has been appointed as the new head coach of Norwich City.

The former Aston Villa boss makes a swift return to the dugout following his departure from the Midlands club to succeed Daniel Farke at the Premier League’s bottom side.

Here, we sift through Smith’s in-tray at Carrow Road.

Change the mood

Norwich failed to win any of their opening 10 games of the season under Farke (Nick Potts/PA)

After a dreadful start to the season, Norwich were clearly hoping a change of manager would bring fresh impetus after Farke’s four-and-a-half-year reign. While the success rate of clubs bringing in a new man mid-season to avoid relegation is varied, fresh voices can deliver a short-term bounce that can be built on. The Canaries’ victory over Brentford last time out suggests the cause is not a lost one if Smith can build some confidence and harness it.

Make Gilmour happy

Billy Gilmour can shine for Lampard (Joe Giddens/PA)

Billy Gilmour has cut a frustrated figure in East Anglia having been largely overlooked over the last couple of months. Why Farke was unable to find a role for the precocious young Scotland star has been a puzzle to many. There have even been suggestions Chelsea could terminate his loan deal in January and consider other options. Smith will surely not want that to happen and will need to find a way to make the best use of the talent at his disposal.

Find the shooting boots

It is not difficult to see where Norwich’s main problem lies – they have scored a paltry five goals all season, two of which came in the win over Brentford last week which could not save Farke from the axe. Providing a regular supply line for main striker Teemu Pukki who has proved he can score goals in the Premier League, will be crucial to their survival chances, as will finding goals from elsewhere on the field.

Solve Cantwell conundrum

Todd Cantwell has not been involved for two months (Nigel French/PA)

Todd Cantwell is one of Norwich’s brightest talents and has been tipped for a move elsewhere for some time, yet he has not featured since September. The 23-year-old has had personal issues and an Achilles problem but, as in the case of Gilmour, for a team that has struggled to find the right balance between defence and attack, his prolonged omission has been surprising. Even if his long-term future lies elsewhere, it will surely be in the best interests of Cantwell and Smith that he gets a clean slate under the new boss.

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