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Monumental Task For Smith
Having spent just eight days out of work after being dismissed as Aston Villa coach, the 50-year-old is back in club football with the East Anglian outfit.
In his first interview, he made it clear what the objective was.
“It is now the job of myself and (assistant) Craig (Shakespeare) to continue and improve on that work (of the previous regime) with the ultimate aim of surviving in the Premier League,” Smith explained.
“Norwich City is a big club, with a massive hardcore of supporters who are fully understanding in what it means to be part of the club and its community.
“I was brought up in an era when Norwich were competing in Europe – I remember those times well and whenever I’ve visited Carrow Road and Norwich you can really sense the connection between the fans, staff and players.
“Together, we all have to make Carrow Road a really tough place for visiting teams.”
That will no doubt be easier said than done.
Defence Needs To Be Shored Up
The Norfolk-based side have only kept one clean sheet at Carrow Road this term and have found the net on just three occasions at home. Furthermore, Smith’s sides aren’t necessarily famed for their defensive abilities.
During his two and a half years in the Premier League, Aston Villa conceded 133 goals at a rate of 1.5 per game. Extrapolate that over the course of a 38-match campaign and you’re looking at 57 goals against. That is with a team he had assembled, too.
However, Smith does know how to impact things in the final third. This isn’t a strict rule but, generally speaking, a team’s points total is pretty close to the number of goals they have scored.
Last season, Sheffield United scored 20 and racked up 23 points, while Fulham finished with 28 points and 27 goals. Chelsea were the only team from the top six not to finish within three goals of their points haul.
It is a noticeable pattern in the Premier League. There will be the odd exception, of course, but a lot of the time goals scored are closely tied to points accrued.
Goals Key To Survival
During his time in England’s top flight, Smith’s Villa side averaged 1.26 goals – and over an entire campaign that is almost 48. On paper, this should be enough to guarantee survival.
If he was able to get Norwich firing at that rate now, it would result in 34 goals over the next 27 matches. Add that to the five they’ve already scored and you are almost at the magic 40 point mark.
It feels somewhat unlikely, but if Smith can get the likes of Milot Rashica – a man he reportedly wanted at Aston Villa – Todd Cantwell, Teemu Pukki, Christos Tzolis and Josh Sargent firing, the Canaries could well defy the odds and beat the drop.
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