Dean Smith and the ‘massive hardcore’ of Norwich supporters

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·6-min read
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  • Aston Villa
    Aston Villa
  • Norwich City
    Norwich City
  • Frank Lampard
    Frank Lampard
    English association football player and manager (born 1978)
<span>Photograph: Stephen Pond/Getty Images</span>
Photograph: Stephen Pond/Getty Images


Norwich City get promoted to, and relegated from, the Premier League quite a lot. We would describe them as a yo-yo club, but that suggests a level of dynamism signally lacking. Their antics are less yo and yo, more a long slow circular grind, like an aged dog preparing to lie down in front of the fire at night, or the old well-Brexit Anglia logo. Norwich need snapping out of it, some Quiz of the Week energy, and yes The Fiver is aware these golden-age-of-ITV references are extremely unlikely to land with anyone under the age of 50, but this is who we are, and if the Canaries are allowed to plough the same rut year after interminable year, then The Fiver should get a free pass too.

Related: ‘Pleased to be back’: Dean Smith confirmed as new Norwich manager

To be scrupulously fair to Norwich, they do seem to have realised things couldn’t go on the way they were forever. Daniel Farke was dispatched last week, Frank Lampard was briefly considered before everyone came to their senses, and now Dean Smith has been confirmed as the new boss. “Norwich City is a big club with a massive hardcore of supporters,” Smith said today, immediately pushing all of the big fan buttons in the correct sequence. “Together, we all have to make Carrow Road a really tough place for visiting teams,” he added, perhaps getting a little bit overexcited, writing a cheque even Pep Guardiola would find difficult to cash, but you may as well aim for the stars.

Smith’s CV should give Norwich hope. He helped Brentford gather the momentum that eventually propelled the Bees to the Premier League, then led sleeping giant Aston Villa back to the big time, and while his last few weeks at Villa were admittedly a bit grim, the team were slowly adjusting to life after Jack Grealish, so fair’s fair, and good luck $tevie Mbe. However, The Fiver also notes, reluctantly, that Villa’s downturn in fortunes this season coincided with the departure of Smith’s assistant Plain Old John Terry, which opens up the possibility, not so much of Smith losing his mojo, but of everyone’s favourite leader-legend being either a tactical mastermind or man-management guru par excellence. We’re going to have to go away and think about this.


Join Scott Murray at 7.45pm GMT for live minute-by-minute coverage of San Marino 0-7 England while Daniel Harris will be on hand with a World Cup qualifying clockwatch including Northern Ireland 0-2 Italy, Scotland 1-2 Denmark and more.


“Payback time for Scotland, with interest … the coach [Dragan Stojkovic] had told us that we are capable of producing miracles. When he entered the dressing room after the game, he said ‘You guys are out of your minds’” – Alexander Mitrovic is still trying to come down after scoring the last-minute winner in Lisbon that sealed Serbia’s Human Rights World Cup qualification ahead of Portugal and sparked a pile-on for the ages.

Scenes, earlier.
Scenes, earlier. Photograph: Antonio Cotrim/EPA


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“So the suits are blocking the idea that clubs could wear away shirts on Boxing Day to show support for a very worthy cause. Yet England choose to wear their third kit at Wembley against Albania because ...” – Alex Folkes.

“On the subject of rude names (Fiver passim): anyone remember Uwe Fuchs who was brought in by Bryan Robson to revive Middlesbrough’s promotion push from the Championship? It was a success but as the local paper announced at the end of the season: ‘Uwe Fuchs off to Millwall’” – Graham Liggitt.

“I can’t believe no one has mentioned former [Queen’s] Celtic defender Rafael Scheidt yet. Most commentators ended up referring to him as just ‘Rafael’. At the time, Celtic had another defender named Olivier Tebily. The hope was that they would sign Everton’s David Weir as well, so they could field a back three of “Weir Tebily Scheidt” – Sam Barber.

“With a mediocre squad and 1.35 billion debt, you have to admire Barcelona trying to (re)capture the fans’ imagination on the cheap by re-signing a former player or two from a time when Barca were actually any good. Big clubs struggling to live up to previous glories do love a big name past their best as a gimmick to get the fans excited and take the focus away from the failings of the rest of the squad/club don’t they? Also, see Manchester United and Ronaldo …” – Noble Francis.

Send your letters to And you can always tweet The Fiver via @guardian_sport. Today’s winner of our prizeless letter o’ the day is … Alex Folkes.


Louis van Gaal will coach Netherlands from the dugout despite suffering hip-knack after falling off his bike before the vital HRWC qualifier with Norway. “Physically I’m not good, but the brain is still working,” he winced. “I’m in a lot of pain, that’s why I was in a buggy during training.”

Louis Van Gaal and his golf buggy, earlier.
Louis Van Gaal and his golf buggy, earlier. Photograph: Koen van Weel/EPA

In shutting the stable door long after the horse has bolted news: England’s players plan to discuss how to express their concerns about human rights in Qatar once they have qualified for the World Cup there.

Gareth Bale will not start for Wales against Belgium after playing 45 minutes against Belarus. “He was never going to start,” blabbed manager Rob Page. “The plan was always for him to get a half in the first game and then come on and maybe have an impact in the second game.”

Harvey Elliott has given Jürgen Klopp a rare bit of good news to grin about after returning to outdoor fitness work at Liverpool’s training ground.

Jermain Defoe is among a four-man caretaker team appointed by the Pope’s Newc O’Rangers as the club search for someone to plug the $tevie Mbe-shaped hole in the Ibrox dugout.

And an 11-year-old girl who ran on to the Aviva Stadium pitch to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s shirt when Republic O’ Ireland hosted Portugal has been fined €3,000. “My dad’s going to pay for it,” tooted Addison Whelan.


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Dean Smith may not be a glamorous appointment but he makes sense for trend-defying Norwich, so says John Brewin.

Anders Lindegaard tells Jamie Jackson about having Cristiano Ronaldo on toast, his Manchester United heartache and the “disgusting, bloody hams, blown up by water” that reflect all that is wrong with English society.

The WSL points are talking, and telling us the Women’s Football Weekend was a wasted opportunity.

Glenn Hoddle reflects on his England critics, dropping David Beckham and his row with Alex Ferguson in this forthright book extract. And if that isn’t enough Hoddle for you, you can read about why managing Spurs was one of his greatest regrets.

Ewan Murray reckons youthful Scotland should not fret over their HRWC play-off.

And Ruper Neate asks why Joe Lewis – the 457th-richest person in the world – won’t dig a little deeper to halt Spurs’ slow decline?

And if it’s your thing … you can follow Big Website on Big Social FaceSpace. And INSTACHAT, TOO!


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