Smith's glowing praise for Gilmour, Rashica and Cantwell
- Credit: Denise Bradley/Archant
Dean Smith is no miracle worker. Norwich City’s Premier League survival hangs on the players.
Smith has been tasked with breaking the cycle, and ensuring the Canaries do not make another swift return to the Football League.
The former Walsall, Brentford and Aston Villa coach believes he has the personnel to pull off a great escape. He just has to get them to believe it as well.
“It is not just me. It is the whole group. It has to be a culture thing,” he said, speaking yesterday at his Carrow Road unveiling. “You never know what the culture is like until you have lived it, so I won’t be the one to judge what happened here before.
"But maintaining belief and gaining belief as a group is key, firstly for the players, because they are the ones who have to go onto the pitch and perform, and as I have seen already, that Brentford win should give them that confidence.
“It is a group of players who have known how to win games in the Championship and get promoted the last two times, and comfortably as well. What they have found a little bit harder is how to win games at this level.”
Smith’s priority is finding the defensive platform to unleash City’s attacking weaponry.
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“Top of the in tray is not to concede goals,” he said. “We have conceded too many already and defensively we want to make our structure and organisation a lot stronger. We certainly won’t go away from the type of football the club has been known for.
"We have recruited a squad who can handle the football all over the pitch. We probably need to solidify at the back and be harder to beat. But we have the flair players to cause teams problems at the other end.
“We have got talented players. We haven’t scored as many as we would have liked but there are certainly players who can do both sides of the job.
"We need to create a lot more than we have been doing. That is for sure. We have a number of players who can score goals. I don’t think we have to put pressure on just the forwards to score. We need goals from other areas and (Mathias) Normann scored at Brentford. We can’t be as reliant on one player.”
That sounds good news for the likes of Todd Cantwell and Billy Gilmour, who now have a fresh start under Smith.
While the new City chief revealed on Wednesday big-money summer signing Milot Rashica was a player with plenty of admirers at his old club.
“He is a player I was very aware of. Our previous sporting director at Villa really liked him and I watched him a number of times and they were very close to getting him in,” he said. “He is a player I am certainly well aware of.
"I think he (Gilmour) is an outstanding footballer and he has shown that in the two Scotland games he has just played. I had John McGinn (at Villa) and he was telling me what a good footballer he was and how he surprised him when he first joined up with the national team for the first time.
"I know the talent is there and it is our job now to get that out of him.
"Both him and (Cantwell) have a big role, along with the rest of the squad. It is a new start for them, in terms of a coaching team coming in. We get to see them at training on Thursday and it is down to them to impress us.
"We can’t do anything until January (transfer window) anyway and we haven’t really discussed that. We have spoken about this squad and I feel it is a good enough squad to stay in this league.”
Smith arrives at Norwich with the same reputation as Daniel Farke for trying to develop his players on the training pitch.
"Each day in training is a day for me to educate and help the players learn but also for them to enjoy. We all know you get more out of people if there is an enjoyment element and hopefully the supporters can enjoy some really good performances.
"The fans can expect an organised, hard working team. We won’t leave anything out on the pitch.”