28 Jan 2022

Dean Smith calls for unity as Norwich battle to stay in Premier League

Norwich City v Southampton – Premier League – Carrow Road

Norwich manager Dean Smith applauds the fans at Carrow Road (Joe Giddens/PA)

Dean Smith has called for more togetherness in Norwich’s desperate fight to stay in the Premier League.

The Canaries travel to West Ham on Wednesday looking to kick-start their campaign after losing their last five games in the division to remain bottom of the table with 10 points from 19 top-flight fixtures.

A plethora of injuries and Covid-19 cases had left Norwich with a decimated squad in recent matches but the disillusion of their fanbase has spilled over, with sections of the away following at Crystal Palace celebrating an imaginary goal during the 3-0 defeat in London last month.

Other instances include chants about going on the pitch if certain out-of-form players score while there was a spattering of supporters at Charlton on Sunday who called for long-term owner Delia Smith to sell up, with the club heading for a second relegation from the Premier League in three years.

“I can be honest and say I don’t like the sarcasm from our own fans,” Canaries manager Smith said.

“We need to be together in this fight to stay in the league. There are reasons for our performances and results, I think, in our previous three Premier League games and we need our supporters to be with us.

“I know at times it is only a minority but I would ask them to refrain from that (celebrating an imaginary goal) and get behind us. Hopefully we can give them something to shout at.

“It was only a few games ago I was being told by Norwich supporters that our performance against Manchester United was up there with top performances, so hopefully we can get back there and together with the supporters we can all be pulling in the same direction.”

Fans that do head to West Ham will get the chance to show genuine appreciation to full-back Max Aarons, who will make his 150th appearance for the club if selected at the London Stadium.

The 22-year-old has been one of their best performers since his debut in 2018 and despite being linked with a move away from Carrow Road, Smith does not expect that to happen this month.

“Max is an integral part of squad and is one who has been playing well since I come to the club, so I expect him to stay,” he added.

“He is a talented footballer. I’ve been really impressed with his mindset and defensive capabilities.

“I think he can improve his ball in the final third. We keep speaking to him about that and he is working on that but again he is another who is coachable. He wants to learn, wants to get better.”

Smith does not expect Norwich to be too active in January despite their current plight and instead will hope a shrinking injury list can give them a lift.

He said: “I don’t think we will. We would like to but I would also say we have a fairly big squad and I’ve said that since I’ve been here at the football club.

“When I first came in I was surprised at the size of the squad but I was also happy with the quality of it. Unfortunately it became a little bit unhealthy too quickly but thankfully we are getting some health back to it.

“I think we can be competitive now, that’s for sure.”

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