Dean Smith tells Norwich to be wise in bid for Premier League survival
Dean Smith knows Norwich City must be wise in their fight for Premier League survival.
The Canaries host Crystal Palace on Wednesday night in search of a third straight league win, with confidence boosted by a 3-0 win at Watford before the winter break and then dispatching Wolves to secure a place in fifth FA Cup round.
Norwich, however, could find themselves in the relegation zone when they kick off at Carrow Road should the results go against them on Tuesday night.
Smith knows the battle to stay upright is far from over and has challenged his players to show their courage in the challenges ahead.
“Game management is something we talk about a lot,” said Smith, who took over after Daniel Farke left in November.
“The players will have watched, learned and experienced from other teams to be good at managing the game and I think it’s a natural progression for a team to learn things like that.
“They have to be streetwise. It’s a league we play in where there are a lot of street players and if you don’t learn very fast you can lose.
Smith, who arrived at Carrow Road shortly after he was sacked by Aston Villa, added: “I don’t think we’ve been coaches on the street, but I think it’s something they will all learn.
“They will see the opposing players they are playing against and see what the best players are doing.
“Usually players become magpies and nip things from other players that can help their own games – and if that gets streetwise for us, then so be it.
“As a team, I think they’re starting to understand what it takes to compete at this level and win games, which is most important to me.”
Heading into midweek Premier League fixtures, Norwich sit just a point above the relegation zone, with the teams below all having at least one game in progress.
Smith, however, won’t sleep on the current status of the standings.
“I’d rather be where I am, with the points already in the bag, because you still have to earn those points,” said Smith, who is doubtful of American striker Josh Sargent due to illness.
“There are obviously going to be games tonight (Tuesday) so the table may change even before we start our game tomorrow. That’s how it’s going to be and we just have to take it game by game.
Norwich host Premier League leaders Manchester City on Saturday and then travel to Anfield the following weekend.
Smith, however, wants to focus fully on the here and now.
“I don’t care if it’s Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea or whoever comes next. It’s just the next game,” he said.
“It’s an available three-pointer – and I’ll say the same when we face Man City as well.”
Smith added: “We know how good Palace are and can be. We will respect the opposition, but we will not fear it.
“Having won four of the last five games, with three clean sheets, it breeds confidence and our team looks much healthier now.”