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You move on quickly – Villa clash just another game for Norwich boss Dean Smith

By December 13, 2021No Comments

Norwich boss Dean Smith insisted facing Aston Villa on Wednesday would feel like just another game despite his emotional ties to the club.

Smith, a boyhood Villa fan, was sacked last month after three years in charge at Villa Park but was out of work for only a week before signing a deal with Norwich.

He admitted an early reunion with Villa could be awkward for his family and friends but for him it is business as usual.

“It’s the next game to be honest,” he said. “I was manager there a month ago and somebody made a decision where I’m not the manager any more. I’m not in control of that so I move on very quickly.

“I’m enjoying life at Norwich and it just so happens to be Aston Villa tomorrow. If it was Manchester City or Liverpool, it’s the same. I’ve got to get three points. I made a statement when I left that football club and I stand by every word of it. They’ve moved on and I’ve moved on.

“In my 34 years in professional football, only three of them have been at Aston Villa so, as much as I support Leyton Orient, Walsall, Port Vale, Sheffield Wednesday, Brentford – you move on very quickly, and you have to.

“I’ll always be a Villa fan. I was quite proud of the fact my boy came back from America and he wanted to go to watch Liverpool-Villa rather than Norwich-Manchester United. All our family are Villa fans, but I know he’ll be at the game tomorrow night and he’ll be supporting Norwich.”

Steven Gerrard stepped into Smith’s shoes and has won three of his five games in charge, while Norwich sit bottom of the Premier League table despite encouraging displays.

Smith hopes his inside knowledge of Villa can help, saying: “There’s an advantage obviously that I know the strengths and weaknesses of all the players because I brought the majority of them in.

“But they also know what I’m about as well so they’ll know what I’ll be looking to do. Steven’s gone in there with his own ideas. Watching the games, you’re starting to learn a little bit about them, as they will be with my Norwich team.”

The Canaries remain without a number of players through injury, with defender Grant Hanley joining the ranks after damaging his shoulder during Saturday’s loss to Manchester United.

Ben Gibson should be fit to step in at the back if needed, while Brandon Williams is available having been ineligible to face his parent club.

Christos Tzolis is isolating with Covid-19 but the rest of the squad tested negative on Sunday, with Smith saying: “We’re relieved because obviously the whole country at the moment is holding its breath.

“We’ve been told there’s a wave on its way. Thankfully we’re highly vaccinated. I myself have had my booster and we’re hopeful of getting other people’s boosters done as soon as possible.”

Norwich were beaten only by Cristiano Ronaldo’s penalty on Saturday and Smith hopes Tuesday’s match can provide more reason for optimism.

He said: “We just played Tottenham away and Manchester United at home and our performance levels have been really good. We need to make better decisions in the final third. If we do that then we’ll be fine.”