Dean Smith in his own words
- Credit: PA
With Dean Smith now confirmed as the next head coach at Norwich City, we take a look at how he describes his management style in his own words.
The three topics that keep coming up are consistency, culture and coaching. Smith is a keen chess player, a pragmatic coach and a deep thinker about football.
Here are some of his core beliefs in his own words.
On proving people wrong:
“My biggest drive in football is always to prove people wrong.
“When you walk into any football club – and for me it’s been Walsall, Brentford and Aston Villa – you won’t have 100 per cent of the supporters and everybody to do with the football club wishing you well. Some people will have wanted somebody else.
“I get that, you can’t always please everyone. So my job has always been to prove the doubters wrong and hopefully to use that as a driving force. That’s always done me well and I feel it’s done the players well too.
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“You can’t hide from the criticism that comes at you at times. They’re all on social media, they all see reports and television interviews so they’re not shielded from it because we can’t shield them from it.
“They have to deal with it. One of the ways to do that is to try to prove people wrong.”
- Quotes from an interview with the Independent from 2020
On his coaching style:
"My job is to be a teacher of football. To help players fulfil their potential and get better.
"I don't worried about getting sacked. I can win 10 games on the bounce and still get sacked or lose 10 and not get sacked. That's not in my control.
"My job is about developing players, human beings and producing a really good team for this football club. I try not to worry about anything else. I don't take it home.
"I'm not a ranter or a raver on the sidelines. I protect my players and I don't like the opposition bench having a go at them and I probably have a go at officials too much but it's important for me that my players see a consistency.
"I've always said that if you upset the players or make them bored as a coach, you are in trouble. You have to make training enjoyable but also a learning experience. They want to come in. They want to work. They want to feel like they've learned something.
"The of the things I always say is that I want to be a manager that I would have wanted to be managed by. I don't think I was coached properly until I was 23 or 24. You were told what to do. The coaches then were authoritarian. I don't want to be like that.
"I want players to go and express themselves, and give them options for what they can do, but also give them ownership of their game. There's no right or wrong in the way the game is played.
"Old-school? I hope not! I don't feel like I'm an old school manager in any sense of the game. I don't think you can be, because the game moves so quickly.
"There's certainly nothing wrong with anything old-school, it is sometimes the right school. But you take some of those experiences and use the ones you feel will benefit your team in the future."
- Quotes from Sky Sports interview in 2020 and Graham Hunter's podcast
On creating a club culture:
"Culture is how you behave everyday, how you live everyday when you come in.
"I had to do a talk at Walsall on culture. We had a player and I misunderstood him as a U18 coach at first. I thought he was a bit of a wrong'un.
"I gave him two warning letters straight away and it wasn't until I sat down with him and he explained to me about how he lived, was brought up - sometimes he would come to training and he hadn't eaten.
"I wanted to help him become a better human being, to be honest. He needed a little bit of guidance. He always had talent and drive but it wasn't until one day where he was walking across the canteen, saw some rubbish, picked it up and put it in the bin that I thought 'now he has a chance'.
"I think that's a big thing. You have to know what is important not just for you but for the people around you who are helping you get where you want to be.
"The beginning part is the hardest. What you can't do is just walk into a place and judge a culture straight away because you haven't lived it.
"I've seen too many managers go into a new club and say 'well, they're not fit enough, the culture isn't good enough'. You don't know. You haven't lived it. Until you go in there and live it, only then do you get an idea of what is there.
"You go into a training ground and straight away you become the leader of that training ground whether you like it or not. People will notice your behaviours. The one thing I try to be is consistent. Win or lose, I always try to be the same.
"When I went from Walsall to Brentford, I went from having six members of staff to 26. That increased at Villa. I always tell them 'do your job, don't try to justify it. You're here for a reason'.
- Quotes from Graham Hunter's podcast