“They offered a very good deal I couldn’t turn down” - Naismith reflects on failed City move
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
Steven Naismith has described Norwich City’s contract offer that saw him sign for the Canaries in 2016 as too good to turn down.
The forward joined City as they sought to spend their way out of trouble in 2016, a window that left the club opting for a change of structure and approach.
Naismith was signed alongside central defender Timm Klose, full-back Ivo Pinto, winger Matt Jarvis and the loan addition of Patrick Bamford.
City’s busy window was seen as a gamble to attempt to secure top-flight solidity under then boss Alex Neil and David McNally.
Instead, it was a window with far-reaching ramifications, something City have only just managed to shake-off.
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Despite that window also including the signings of James Maddison and Ben Godfrey, it was one pinpointed by City sporting director Stuart Webber as being the most costly.
City spent a reported £8.5million on the Scottish international, but the move never worked out for either club or player. Naismith is now plying his trade back in Scotland with Hearts.
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Speaking to former City winger Robert Snodgrass and ex-Rangers striker Kris Boyd on the pair’s podcast, the Lockdown Tactics, Naismith explains why, despite his struggles on the pitch, he doesn’t hold any ill will towards the Canaries.
“In hindsight, it didn’t pan out in the way I would have expected and wanted it to.
“Norwich tried to get me in the summer and then they offered a very good deal which I just couldn’t turn down. Within the six months, we get relegated and then things just never panned out for the club in general.
“Some of the people at the club, Delia and Michael, are the nicest people you’ll meet. They are fans who love the club, do all they can for the club and it was sad to see that we couldn’t get back up and then a couple of changes of managers made it impossible for myself.”
Naismith made three appearances under current City boss Daniel Farke, and the Scot has praised his training methods and suggested he did want to play a part in the revolution overseen by Webber.
“As I got into my third season, I knew that I wasn’t going to be in Daniel Farke’s plans. I had a good three months with him, enjoyed his training but it just wasn’t going to work out and I just wanted to continue playing,” Naismith said.
“Daniel came in and tried to change everything about the club. He changed the way they play and train. At the time, I was one of the experienced players so at the start he kinda used me a bit in terms of training and what he wanted for the squad.
“I played early doors but it was clear that he liked working with younger pros and, probably, ones that don’t form opinions as they get older like every player does.”
Naismith failed to make a significant impression beyond and impressive debut in City’s infamous 5-4 defeat to Liverpool - with the Scot putting the Canaries 2-1 ahead before playing an influential role in the penalty converted by Wes Hoolahan.
The Scot failed to replicate that level of performance thereafter, and was unable to prevent a damaging relegation which left the club soul-searching before implementing an off-field restructure which saw City appoint Webber and Farke.
Along with a host of experienced players, Naismith quickly found himself out of favour at Carrow Road, and the ex-Everton attacker wanted to get back to playing regularly.
Despite suggestions of a fall-out, Naismith moved quickly to dispel the myths surrounding his City exit - indicating it was his desire to play consistently rather than any serious breakdown in relations with the club’s staff.
“There was no bad blood or anything like that, he was great with me. Stuart Webber was very impressive from day one and it got to the stage where I wanted to play.
“I wanted to get back to playing regularly and into a routine that I never really had at Norwich. In terms of the club, I have nothing bad to say about them, they were great with me.
“(They were) lovely people and it was great to see them go back up a year after I had left.”
Naismith made just shy of 50 appearances for the Canaries, scoring on eight occasions.
His future with Hearts remains uncertain after the Scottish club were relegated after the curtailment of the Scottish Premiership.
Hearts chairwomen Ann Budge did make a proposal that would have seen the top-flight extended to 14 teams. The idea was roundly rejected - and Tynecastle Park will be playing host to Scottish Championship football next season.