Spud Thornhill: Dean Smith will be worth the wait for City

Kenny McLean of Norwich looks dejected at the end of the Premier League match at Carrow Road, Norwic

Kenny McLean can't show his face after Norwich's 5-1 loss at home to Aston Villa - then managed by Dean Smith - back in October 2019 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

They say a week is a long time in football - so a fortnight must be an eternity.

That's what it has been like since we beat Brentford two weeks ago.

Today, us fans can officially welcome Dean Smith as the manager of our football club, which is something I wouldn’t have predicted as I stood celebrating our win in west London.  

A lot has been said about Daniel Farke, and most people know my feelings towards the man, but it’s history and I, like many others, have to move on.  

However sad it is, it’ll never be as sad as in November 1987 when I was 12 years old, collecting the Eastern Evening News from my local newsagent and I saw that my first Norwich City manager, Ken Brown, had been sacked. There was a picture of Brown fighting back the tears. I was upset and gutted because of the joy of Wembley wins, championships and the time he took with me every time I met him.  

We were second from bottom in the old Division One, and looking like we were heading back to Division Two. Dave Stringer moved up to become the second Norwich manager in my time and by the end of the season, he kept us up. Thirty four years on and Dean Smith becomes the 19th permanent manager in my time supporting City. Let’s hope Smith can repeat what Stringer did. 

Now, if I’m being honest I was not sold on Dean Smith when I first heard he was on the shortlist. I said I wanted Norwegian Kjetil Knutsen. I suppose it was my old heart wanting it to be like it was with Farke - an unknown guy proving people wrong, even if I had never heard of the guy until a fortnight ago.

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The longer it went on, the more I was warming to Smith. It appears the majority of the Aston Villa fans were having the same feelings towards Smith that we did towards Farke. So much praise for him was so positive. I don’t think I’ve ever heard so much praise for a ex-manager joining a rival team. 

Lasse Vibe of Brentford celebrates scoring his sides 1st goal during the Sky Bet Championship match

Brentford on their way to a victory, orchestrated by Dean Smith, at Carrow Road in December, 2017 - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I thought about a couple of games where Dean Smith sides have left me very impressed with how they totally dominated and played good football against us. First was in December 2017 when his Brentford side came to Carrow Road and beat us 2-1. I remember the first half they could’ve had a lot more than the two goals they scored. 

Then there was October 2019 when his Aston Villa side turned up at Carrow Road. I know we had a bit of a makeshift team because of injuries, but it was just a few weeks after our famous win over Manchester City. I believed we could beat Villa. But they just destroyed us 5-1. Again, it could’ve been more.  

With me sitting just a few seats away from the away dug-out, I remember myself and my brother called Smith out and praised his side for totally outplaying us, which I know he appreciated as he acknowledged it with a thumbs up and a thankyou.  

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

Then there's Todd Cantwell and Milo Rashica. We know Smith knows about these players as he has expressed interest in signing them whilst at Villa. This must be another positive and if Smith help Cantwell like he did Jack Grealish, it’s got to help not only the player but the club as well.  

Smith is definitely an upgrade and I’m sure he is going to do what he has done for his three other clubs who he left in a better state than when he started.

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

Come on, you Yellows!