Norwich head coach Dean Smith admits his six months in charge have ultimately proved a failure, but is determined the club will return stronger from a Premier League campaign to forget.
Former Aston Villa boss Smith and assistant Craig Shakespeare knew they were facing a tough ask to keep the Canaries up when taking over from Daniel Farke in November.
Although Norwich briefly hauled themselves out of the drop zone with victory at fellow strugglers Watford in January, the same old failings at both ends of the pitch soon saw them back deep in trouble.
With the inevitable relegation confirmed with four games left, the Norfolk club have at least plenty of time to start planning for life in the Sky Bet Championship again.
Smith has conducted individual one-on-ones with the players this week and will now be expected to swiftly regroup the squad for the challenges ahead, with the new English Football League season set to kick off again on July 30.
It is, though, a challenge the Norwich boss will meet head on.
“Ultimately it has been a failure because my job was to come here and keep us in the Premier League,” said Smith, whose side host Champions League hopefuls Tottenham on Sunday.
“I am really disappointed we have not managed to do that. We just haven’t been quite good enough.
“But there have been some good parts of it, like the emergence of Jon Rowe, who nobody knew about six months ago, and Tony Springett as well.
“We did get out of the bottom three for the first time in something like 500 days, but it has not been a great season.
“We wanted to stay in the league and ultimately we haven’t done that.”
Smith added at a press conference: “I feel for the supporters, but also for the players and staff as well because as a collective we haven’t been good enough.
“But together we will all come back fighting to get back into it (the Premier League).”
A 1-1 draw at Wolves last weekend ended a run of five straight defeats for Smith’s side.
Spurs boss Antonio Conte, though, will have his men firmly focussed on inflicting Norwich’s 13th home league defeat to keep themselves in pole position for Champions League football ahead of north London rivals Arsenal.
“He (Conte) has come in and done a really good job. I think he has done wherever he has been,” Smith said.
“I worked with (former Chelsea captain) John Terry at Villa for three years and he told me how good a coach he was.
“He won the Premier League with Chelsea, went back over to Italy and won the league with Inter Milan, so he certainly seems to have that Midas touch at the moment.”