Norwich City

Norwich City

Championship

Dean Smith slams referees who will be ‘glad to have me out of the Premier League’ after Norwich City relegation

Dean Smith before a Norwich City match

Dean Smith had some grievances to air with Premier League referees after Norwich City were relegated from the top flight – but also blamed a lack of goal-getters in their squad.

Norwich City suffered a 2-0 defeat upon their manager’s return to Aston Villa. The goals came from Ollie Watkins in the 41st minute and Danny Ings in the 93rd.

Consequently, the Canaries are 13 points adrift of safety, with only 12 left to play for. Their remaining games against West Ham United, Leicester City, Wolves and Tottenham Hotspur will be their last in the Premier League for a while.

For Smith, who took the Norwich City job mid-season after being sacked by Aston Villa, it will mark a return to Championship management for the first time since 2018-19 if he stays in the role.

His current employers are accustomed to this tradition, having now suffered an instant relegation on each of their past three returns to the top flight.

Once again, it felt inevitable this time for Smith, who nevertheless appreciated his side’s performance.

Smith told Match of the Day: “I’m disappointed with the result to be honest because I thought we played well today. I just said to the players, the reason we’re relegated is not because of today’s performance.

“There’s been performances over the season when we haven’t been quite up to the standard in the Premier League. But today I thought we played well.

“Still scratching my head how we didn’t get a penalty. But I said to the players, I’ll take today’s performance. I thought we quietened the crowd down and I thought we had the majority of possession.

“Probably didn’t create big chances enough – Pierre [Lees-Melou]’s had a good chance early on. If we get the penalty it’s a different game, totally.”

Norwich City penalty appeal explained

Smith elaborated on the incident he was referring to. He explained: “I think it might be Matt Cash, he tries to clear it, he doesn’t hit the ball because Brandon’s [Williams] heading it and he kicks him in the face after the ball’s gone. That’s a penalty.

“But I suppose it’s Norwich City so I probably won’t get a phone call off Mike Riley.”

As well as airing his disappointment with the decision-making, Smith looked inwards and blamed a lack of goal-getters in his squad for their plight.

He said: “I think that’s been a problem all season. I think you just look at the goals for tally this season and we’ve been very reliant on Teemu [Pukki]. And you can’t do that at this level.”

Dean Smith divulges difficulty of Premier League

If Smith is to guide Norwich back up, they will have to do things differently next time they are in the Premier League. That said, he acknowledges it would still be a tough task.

He explained: “It’s very difficult to not let it happen again. We’ll try all we can to try come back up first. That’s what we have to do.

“It’s a very difficult league to stay in. I spent £125m here at Villa to keep us up in our first season in the Premier League. That’s how tough this league is.

“We had a terrible start obviously; two points after 10 games, it’s difficult.

“But I can’t question the attitude of the players. At least today they performed really well.”

Indeed, Smith denied there was a mentality issue to blame stemming from players who had suffered relegation with Norwich before.

He replied: “No because we bought some new players in who haven’t. My first time as a manager getting relegated so I don’t actually know how it feels. This is the first time I’ve felt it.

“It’s a tough league and what you have to do is, when you’re playing against the teams that have come up, like yourselves and teams who are similar, where you feel you can get points, that’s when you have to go and get the points.

“We’ve had some decisions go against us this season that I’ve felt strongly against but I’m sure the PGMOL will be glad to have me out of the Premier League.”

READ MORESteady rise for Championship ace could continue amid £10million links to Everton, Norwich