Norwich City appoint former Aston Villa boss Dean Smith as new head coach

Norwich City have appointed former Aston Villa boss Dean Smith as their new head coach.

The 50-year-old replaces Daniel Farke who was sacked by the Canaries last Saturday.

Boyhood Villa fan Smith was himself dismissed the following day, but Norwich have moved quickly to offer him an immediate return to the dugout.

Smith has signed a two-and-a-half year deal at Carrow Road and will be joined by former Leicester City boss Craig Shakespeare who will be his assistant.

Chelsea legend Frank Lampard had been linked with the job at Norwich as well, but withdrew his interest last week.

That paved the way for Smith to emerge as the leading candidate, although the Canaries insist he was always their number one choice after it became obvious he'd be willing to jump straight back into work.

Smith did an impressive job at Brentford. Credit: PA

“It has been a whirlwind seven days, but I’m really pleased to be back and working for Norwich City in the Premier League," Smith said.

“Clearly, there has been some wonderful work that has gone into this football club over last four and a half years. It is now the job of myself and Craig to continue and improve on that work with the ultimate aim of surviving in the Premier League.

“I was brought up in an era when Norwich were competing in Europe – I remember those times well and whenever I’ve visited Carrow Road and Norwich you can really sense the connection between the fans, staff and players. Together, we all have to make Carrow Road a really tough place for visiting teams."

Sporting director Stuart Webber added: “We are delighted to have appointed Dean as our new head coach. I have admired his work for some time and he has been a long-term target in the event that we needed to appoint a new head coach.

“Dean has an outstanding track record and as soon as he made it clear that he was ready to go straight back into a managerial role we contacted him immediately.

“In Craig Shakespeare we have secured an assistant head coach with an outstanding reputation and vast experience within the game. We are delighted that Craig has agreed to join our new team.

"We look forward to working with Dean and Craig and building on the outstanding work which has been achieved at this club in the last few years."

Dean Smith has replaced Daniel Farke at Norwich City. Credit: PA

Smith is renowned for playing attacking football, and impressed while working to a budget at both Walsall and Brentford.

That saw him land his dream job at Villa in 2018 and he made an immediate impact - guiding them to promotion via the play-offs in his first season in charge.

He then managed to keep Villa up on the final day of the following season, before they kicked on and finished 11th in 2020/21.

However, he was sacked on November 7 following a run of five straight Premier League defeats, with the Villa board expecting the club to push towards a top-half finish this season.

Smith inherits a Norwich team who are five points adrift from safety in the Premier League, but the Canaries did at least win their last game before the international break - beating Brentford 2-1.

Ironically, his first game in charge will be against Southampton - the same club he lost to in his final match at Aston Villa.

Smith led Aston Villa to promotion at Wembley in 2019. Credit: PA

  • Analysis - ITV News Anglia sports reporter Andy Ward

"Underwhelming" is a word that certain Norwich fans keep using to describe Smith's appointment, but that feels very harsh.

Ok, he's not as glamorous as a Frank Lampard, but in many ways, Smith is the perfect fit for the Canaries. He's used to working under a sporting director and plays very attractive, attacking football.

At Brentford, his team were known as the Championship's "great entertainers" and he carried that philosophy on at Villa.

He's also known for being a very good coach. Just ask Jack Grealish who became England's first ever £100 million player under his guidance.

Before his spell at Villa, he also laid the foundations for Brentford to eventually make it to the Premier League and he's still fondly remembered in West London, as he is at first club Walsall.

He's a calming influence in the dressing room and is big on building a culture at a club.

Of course, it's a huge ask for him to keep Norwich up, but even if the worst does happen, the Canaries have got themselves a coach who's proven he can get teams promoted from the Championship.

Both he and the club won't be thinking that way though, and his immediate aims will probably include trying to integrate players like Todd Cantwell and Billy Gilmour back into the team after they were frozen out by Farke.

One thing's for sure: If he does manage to pull off the greatest of great escapes, he'll certainly go down as a Norwich legend.

Aston Villa fan Dan Bardell, who also presents a popular podcast for The Athletic, believes that Smith is the perfect man to take Norwich forward.

  • Watch an extended interview with Aston Villa fan Dan Bardell

"I can't overstate enough, what a good, decent human being he is and I think that's important for certain clubs, and I think that will be something that's important for Norwich," he told ITV News Anglia.

"I think he'll be an upgrade on Daniel Farke. Daniel Farke did some great things at Norwich, but maybe, a little bit like Villa, they just needed a new voice, some new ideas.

"Dean Smith will bring a lot to Norwich. I think he'll actually suit Norwich down to the ground and I think he's a far better appointment than Frank Lampard would have been."