City chief Smith on the tactical tweak that triggered Saints' fightback
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Dean Smith saluted his Norwich City players after a debut to savour in a 2-1 Premier League win over Southampton.
Smith's tactical tweaks, which included replacing Todd Cantwell with Josh Sargent at the interval, triggered a storming second half response from the hosts, capped by Grant Hanley's towering match-winning header from Billy Gilmour's corner.
"They got off to a great start and I was thinking back to two weeks earlier when they also got off to a great start against my Aston Villa team." said Smith, who replaced Daniel Farke at the start of this week. "We showed character in the second half.
"We adapted to the game plan as well. We never got close enough to their sixes in the first half. We needed to press higher. I thought the second half we were full value.
I thought it was worth the risk putting Todd into the team. I just felt Todd was a little bit off it today. It is understandable because he has not trained with the group, I believe, for the last few weeks.
"Putting Sarge on (Josh Sargent) gave us more legs on the pitch. We could go and engage a lot higher up the pitch. I didn't think our eights got to their sixes anywhere near enough in that first half. But when we changed it we were the much better team.
"Set pieces are important at this level. I keep reminding the players. That can be corners, it can be free kicks, it can be throw ins.
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"Great delivery from Billy, who I thought had a terrific game, and a great header from our captain on his birthday. Really pleased with that and certainly the character the players showed in the second half."