Canaries boss sure he has recovered from emotional Villa exit

New Norwich City head coach Dean Smith watches the players training at Colney. Picture: DENISE BRADL

New Norwich City head coach Dean Smith watches his players training at Colney - Credit: Denise Bradley

After an emotional exit from boyhood club Aston Villa, new Norwich City boss Dean Smith is fully focused on proving his Premier League credentials with the Canaries. 

Play-off promotion, a League Cup final and two seasons of top-flight survival made for a lively three years at Villa Park.

“A lot of people have spoken about my connection with Villa but in my 30-odd years of professional football only three of them have been with Aston Villa,” said the 50-year-old. 

“I know how to disconnect from each football club I’m at and go full and whole-heartedly into the project that we’ve got here.” 

After five losses on the spin brought an end to his time at Villa, Smith is desperate to get back to winning ways, starting against Southampton at Carrow Road on Saturday. 

“You’re emotionally invested in whichever football club you are at,” he continued. “I’ve always said that. Whether I was at Walsall, Brentford or Aston Vila I was always trying to win a game exactly the same. 

“The emotional side, certainly at Villa, was because most of my family were Villa fans. I certainly know a lot of Norwich fans who have texted me already, so there’s always going to be emotional connections - but that will to win will never change with whatever club you are at.” 

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It was the first time that Smith had been dismissed as a manager, having turned Walsall from survival scrappers to play-off hopefuls in League One and then continued Brentford’s development towards Premier League potential in the Championship. 

“I think the disappointment is always telling those close to you. I’ve been in football long enough and said right from the start, I’m a big boy, I can handle it,” he added. 

“But by Monday you have to move on and that’s life. I was brought up in a family with the values that you have to cope. So we coped and we moved on. 

“Thankfully, Stuart (Webber) got in touch and we met up on the Tuesday.” 

Villa moved swiftly to bring Liverpool legend Steven Gerrard in from Rangers, with Smith asked for his thoughts on how his replacement would fare. 

“I’ve got no idea,” he replied. “They’ve decided to go with Steven and he’s obviously been very successful at Rangers. 

“I hope he’s very successful at Aston Villa but, obviously, not at Norwich City’s expense.” 

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