Norwich City's hopes of Premier League survival boosted by proactive decisions from manager Dean Smith
There must always be an element of caution when it comes to analysing the first few games of a new head coach’s reign. Each season is littered with examples of clubs who enjoy the ‘new manager bounce’ before tailing off when the honeymoon period ends.
But having said that, there were plenty of encouraging signs during last weekend’s 2-1 win over Southampton.
In truth, the first half was a struggle. We were second best in every department and fortunate to head into the break on level terms.
Dean Smith recognised this, making a half-time substitution along with a subtle tweak in the formation to turn 4-2-3-1 into a 4-1-4-1.
I don’t want to be critical of Daniel Farke, or in any way tarnish his legacy, but this tactical proactivity and willingness to make early changes to impact matches was lacking during his time at the helm.
So much so that in the Premier League under the German, we didn’t once turn a losing position into three points – something Smith achieved instantly.
The changes worked for Smith, allowing us to get up the pitch, stop Southampton from playing and start getting a foothold in the game.
In turn, this allowed Billy Gilmour to get on the ball and make things happen. The Chelsea loanee has struggled to make an impact during his short time at Carrow Road, but there is no doubting his quality – as was seen in his man-of-the-match display.
Gilmour was also the provider for the winning goal, swinging in a perfect back-post corner which was headed in by Grant Hanley.
Two wins in a row has certainly lifted spirits around the club – and I sense a real belief among our supporters that under Smith, we can pull off a great escape.
It’s important not to get too carried away, but replicate that second-half performance against Wolves and Newcastle in the next week and we have every chance of maintaining this upward trajectory.