Spud Thornhill: Smuth’s waiting game was worth it for Norwich

Posted:
6:00 a.m. 20 November 2021



They say that a week is a long time in football, so two weeks must be an eternity.

It’s been like that since we beat Brentford two weeks ago.

Today we the fans can officially welcome Dean Smith as manager of our football club, which I would not have predicted as I celebrated our victory in West London.

There has been a lot of talk about Daniel Farke, and most people know my feelings for this man, but this is ancient history and I, like many others, have to move on.

Sad as it is, it will never be so sad as in November 1987 when I was 12 collecting the Eastern Evening News from my local newsagent and saw that my first manager from Norwich City, Ken Brown, had been sacked. There was a photo of Brown struggling with tears. I was upset and annoyed with the joy of the Wembley victories, the championships and the time he took with me every time I met him.

We were second from the bottom in the old Division One, and it looked like we were going back to Division Two. Dave Stringer evolved into the second Norwich manager in my time and at the end of the season he kept us updated. Thirty-four years later, Dean Smith becomes the 19th permanent manager of my time to support City. Hopefully Smith can repeat what Stringer did.

Now if I’m being honest I wasn’t convinced by Dean Smith when I first heard he was on the shortlist. I said I wanted the Norwegian Kjetil Knutsen. Guess it was my old heart that wanted it to be like with Farke – an unknown guy who proves people wrong, even though I had never heard of this guy until a fortnight ago.

The longer this went on, the more I warmed up for Smith. It seems the majority of Aston Villa fans had the same feelings towards Smith as we did towards Farke. So much praise for him was so positive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much praise from an ex-manager joining a rival team.


Brentford en route to victory, orchestrated by Dean Smith, at Carrow Road in December 2017

– Credit: Paul Chesterton / Focus Images Ltd

I thought of a few games where Dean Smith’s teams left me very impressed with how they totally dominated and played good football against us. The first time was in December 2017, when his team from Brentford came to Carrow Road and beat us 2-1. I remember the first half, they could have had a lot more than the two goals they scored.

Then there was October 2019 when his side Aston Villa arrived at Carrow Road. I know we had a makeshift squad because of injuries, but it was only a few weeks after our famous win against Manchester City. I thought we could beat Villa. But they just destroyed us 5-1. Again, it could have been more.

With me sitting a few seats away from the outside shelter, I remember my brother and I calling Smith and praising his team for totally outdoing us, which I know he appreciated because he recognized it with a thumbs up and a thank you.

I can’t think that another time I praised a manager as much as I did that day.

Then there are Todd Cantwell and Milo Rashica. We know Smith knows these players because he has expressed interest in signing them at Villa. This has to be another bright spot and if Smith helps Cantwell like he did with Jack Grealish it has to help not only the player but the club as well.

Smith is definitely an upgrade and I’m sure he’s going to do what he did for his other three clubs that he left in better shape than when he started.

We the fans know Smith so let’s make sure he knows all about us the fans. Let’s all be loud and proud and maybe, just maybe, this could be the start of something amazing.

Come on, you yellows!

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