Dean Smith is searching for answers to numerous problems at Norwich City, but ex-Aston Villa coach Neil Cutler has outlined how his methods have harboured success before. 

Smith finds himself under pressure at Norwich after an inconsistent first half of the Championship campaign. 

The Canaries currently reside in fifth in the Championship table having won just once in eight matches. Performances have left plenty to be desired and fan frustrations over the ex-Villa man are at an all-time high. 

Cutler worked closely with Smith at Aston Villa and saw first-hand how his methods galvanised an underperforming squad to guide them to promotion via the play-offs in 2018/19. 

That then led to a great escape in the Premier League the following year after Project Restart. Smith then guided his boyhood club to an 11th placed finish in 20/21 before being dismissed in November. 

Cutler remained at the club after Smith's dismissal but is full of praise for the Canaries' head coach and explains why he was so successful during his tenure at Villa Park. 

"He's fantastic. The thing with Dean is he's a friend but he's so driven. The best part about him is that his emotional control is unbelievable. Whether you win, you lose or you draw, he is exactly the same person.

"He's a people person. Everyone who comes across him says the same thing about him," Cutler told the Claret and Blue Podcast. "He's massively driven in taking places forward and he creates a real culture within a football club that creates a togetherness - everyone saw that at Aston Villa and he did exactly the same at Walsall.

"He got the players, the fans and the staff together in the same journey. That is what he does. He creates an atmosphere around a football club where you can come to work and just be yourself. There are no egos.

"He creates that togetherness through his personality and he does it seamlessly. He treats the cleaner the same way he treats a first-team player. It's about creating a culture where everyone is on the same journey and going in the same direction and being willing to fight.

"If you're a good person then you can get people to run through brick walls for you and that is what he creates. That is what happened at Villa."

Smith has struggled to win over City fans since replacing Daniel Farke over a year ago, with Norwich suffering a painful relegation and perceived to be underperforming by many this year. 

But behind the scenes, he is well-liked by players who enjoy his training methods and approach to man management. 

Smith is more considered in his approach to media and during matches than his predecessor at Carrow Road and has struggled to create a connection with supporters. 

The Pink Un: Neil Cutler has explained why Dean Smith's calmness on the sideline is a strength.Neil Cutler has explained why Dean Smith's calmness on the sideline is a strength. (Image: PA Images)

But Cutler has explained why that ability to remove emotion from his decision-making processes within matches helped Villa compete in the Premier League after promotion. 

"Dean was so good at taking the emotion away. He was very calm at the side of the pitch.

"He took everything in his stride and over the years I have really learned from that," he said. "I've learned a lot from Dean in terms of being much calmer because you have to be. You have to think on your feet because the Premier League is so good so there's no time to be emotional."

After Smith's long-serving assistant Richard O'Kelly departed Villa Park and John Terry left to pursue his ambitions of becoming a manager in his own right in the summer of 2021, he turned to Craig Shakespeare, who he would later bring to Norwich. 

Many have attributed those changes as one of the reasons Villa struggled to progress in Smith's final few months in charge - but Cutler was full of praise for his right-hand man. 

"Shakey is so experienced and so knowledgable. He's a proper good guy so his transition into the club was seamless because you're bringing in a person who is a good person who fits into the staff really well."

READ MORE: Chris Sutton's exclusive column on Robert Chase and City exit

Smith's dismissal was viewed as harsh by some sections of the footballing world but he found himself back in work at Norwich less than a fortnight later. 

Leaving his boyhood club prompted an internal debate within Smith about whether to take time away from the game - but Norwich's approach and the prospect of returning to management in the top flight proved too difficult to turn down. 

Cutler, who relished working alongside Smith, explains why the City's boss' sacking from Villa didn't come as a surprise. 

"It was a tough time for us," Cutler said. "Any team in the Premier League that comes up against a tough run like that can lose five games. There was a game where we were 2-0 up against Wolves with ten minutes to go and lost the game.

"The momentum switched, when you lose it it's hard to stem the tide. Once you lose five games you are on the edge. I think he saw it coming."

Smith will be relying on his methods of culture creation and cultivating a togetherness within a squad to help ease the pressure that has formed at Norwich in recent months. 

If he can - then there is still enough of this season to ensure success is possible.