‘Our values definitely align’ - Canaries chief on why Smith was chosen
- Credit: Denis Bradley
Values, experience and Premier League nous were the deciding factors in Stuart Webber deciding Dean Smith was the man to become Norwich City’s new head coach.
The Canaries’ sporting director was alongside Smith for a Carrow Road press conference on Wednesday afternoon to discuss the 50-year-old's arrival as Daniel Farke’s replacement.
Dismissed by boyhood club Aston Villa less than 24 hours after City had parted ways with Farke, Smith had earned play-off promotion, a League Cup final and two seasons of top-flight survival since joining from Brentford in October 2018.
“Dean was someone that we’ve admired for a long time,” Webber explained. “A bit like our approach to scouting players, we do the same with coaches and managers in the event that ours may leave, for whatever reason.
“If you look at Dean’s work for what is still, for a young guy, a long career in terms of Walsall, Brentford and Aston Villa, that speaks for itself.
“What’s important for this club is that we are a little bit different to others, with our model, so it’s important that the person we get understands that and I think Dean has worked in very similar models before.
“Our values definitely align, the way we see football is aligned, and they are vitally important but what we believe we’ve got is someone with great experience and success in the Premier League.
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“Let’s not forget this is a guy who got a big club promoted, where others had not managed that. Kept them in the Premier League, got to a League Cup final, so some really impressive pieces of work alongside developing players – and one of them has become the most expensive English player ever (Jack Grealish).
“It really fits what we want to do and what we want to do next but what we also see is a man who is going to buy into the whole club and work on us to make everything better, because we’ve obviously still got a lot of improvements to make.
“So it’s exciting, as we go forward, to have that new start and to build on what we’ve done so far.”
The Welshman was asked about how the process had unfolded after dismissing Farke and three members of his backroom team following a 2-1 win at Brentford prior to the international break.
The decision had been made prior to the game, a first win in 11 Premier League games and in 21 matches overall when including the nosedive to relegation in 2020.
Interviewing Chelsea legend Frank Lampard in Dubai had made it into the media but Webber explained that he was leaning towards Smith once his Villa exit had coincided kindly.
The process was complicated slightly by Smith flying out to New York last Tuesday but with the US borders reopening recently, the new City boss’s wife was intent on them getting to see their son, Jamie, for the first time since the Covid-19 outbreak during the early months of 2020.
With a bit of sightseeing and recharging of batteries while the formalities were completed, Smith was meeting players at the Lotus Training Centre today having been busy making plans for Saturday’s home clash with Southampton since the weekend.
“We spoke to other people, of course,” Webber continued. “Some people reported that we had given it to other people, which was never true. We keep our powder dry when it comes to dealing with stuff in the media.
“But in terms of Dean, the most important thing was that, unfortunately for him he’d lost his job on the Sunday morning and to be honest my ears pricked up very quickly.
“He was someone that had always been a long-term target, that ever if he was not in work or was maybe at a lesser club than us and we could employ him, we’d do that.
“So the next stage, I’ll be honest, was that I phoned his agent and was expecting him to say that there was no interest because he maybe wants to have a break, but he said his gut feeling was that Dean would want to have a chat.
“Myself and Neil Adams were sat at Dean’s house very quickly after that moment, discussing the way forward for this football club. So as soon as Dean became available and it was clear that he was ready to be a part of a club and go straight back in, to be honest it then became a very easy decision.”
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