Dean Smith has done what no Norwich City manager has done since 2016, win consecutive Premier League games. Not only have his side picked up a vital six points from their last two matches but they have given themselves a strong platform to build on in the race for survival.
In a relegation-threatened Friday Night Football spectacle, Smith’s side went head-to-head with Claudio Ranieri’s Watford in a huge relegation six-pointer, and they trounced the Hornets 3-0. Norwich completely outclassed their opponents and were thoroughly deserving of the three points, thanks to a Josh Sargent brace and an own goal. With Watford at home, many were expecting the talented attacker Emmanuel Dennis to play an instrumental role in the fixture. He did, but not in the way people were picturing. The Nigerian was sent off for two bookable offences and it capped off a very poor afternoon for the Hertfordshire side. But it just highlighted how well the Canaries had played. They came in with the confidence from beating strugglers Everton the week before and it carried them through to another victory. The mental boost they will likely receive for beating a team around them, as well as leapfrogging them to climb out of the relegation zone for the first time this season will be massive moving forward.
The job Smith has done since he came through the doors has been nothing short of sensational. Ahead of the season, Norwich appeared to have learned from past mistakes and made some serious investment into the squad to compete in the top-flight. Predecessor Daniel Farke was an enigma as he had his side blitzing the Championship but always cowered away from English football’s promised land.
The mentality that the club had amassed over recent years in the Premier League quickly crept in and results and performances were unforgivable. Farke may have won his last match in charge, but the change was necessary. Since Smith came in, his side have looked refreshed and more confident in their abilities, even dealing with a whole host of covid cases, and an upturn in performances in 2022 has been clear to see. Although they didn’t get a positive result against Manchester United last month, they were by far the better side, and you could see the transformation that has been happening on the pitch with positive results just around the corner.
The Canaries have well and truly spread their wings with their two recent victories, against teams around them that are also looking to ensure Premier League status and with a tough run ahead of Wolves, Crystal Palace, Manchester City and Liverpool, those six points multiply in terms of how big they may prove to be. The former Aston Villa boss has won 11 out of the 16 points they have won in 2021-22 and they have come in the space of two months. Many said when he joined that he was the perfect man for the job to rebuild the team and bring them back up, as if it was an absolute that they were going to be relegated. Now here they are, two points clear of the drop zone with 16 games left to play and Smith is only going to make his players better. It is time to start giving credit where it is due and start to believe that Smith may not only be the man to rebuild Norwich, but ensure their immediate future remains in the Premier League.