‘Let’s climb that mountain’ says Dean Smith ahead of Norwich’s Old Trafford test

Norwich head coach Dean Smith has challenged his players to prove everyone wrong and keep their slim hopes of survival alive when they head to Manchester United.

The Canaries beat relegation rivals Burnley 2-0 at Carrow Road last weekend, but a first Premier League win in 10 attempts was not enough to lift them from the bottom of the table.

Despite the improved mood within the camp, Norwich continue to face a difficult task if they want to extend their stay in the top flight beyond one season.

Ahead of Saturday’s trip to Old Trafford, the Norfolk club sit seven points from safety and have also played one more game than Burnley, who have sacked veteran manager Sean Dyche, and Everton.

However, Smith is determined to remain focused on the job at hand, even if the odds seem stacked against him.

“I’m a realist and I know how tough it’s going to be, there are no ‘gimmies’ in the Premier League,” the Norwich boss said.

“We are going to travel to Old Trafford next, the Theater of Dreams, and what a difficult place to go.

“But we have that renewed confidence of what four points give you in the last two games.”

Smith told a news conference: “We’re looking forward to the game. Let’s try to climb that mountain and do what people have already said is not feasible.

“We just want to keep working hard, trying to perform well and trying to get better, develop and learn from our mistakes and reflect on every game.

“If you can do that, there will be progression and development, which is all you can want from your team.”

While Norwich battle for points at the bottom, United’s effort to return to the top four has stalled in recent weeks, culminating in a 1-0 loss to Everton.

United fans plan to protest Glazer’s ownership of the club before kick-off on Saturday.

While it remains to be seen if there will be any direct impact on United’s players, Smith will take advantage of any additional advantage Norwich can gain.

“They lost their last game against Everton and I’ve been told there could be some kind of protest on the pitch as well,” said Smith, who when the Aston Villa boss planned a 1-0 win at Old Trafford in September.

“Sometimes in this league you have to play against teams at the right time and hopefully for us this is the right time.”

Smith added: “We have analyzed the last three or four Manchester United games as always, but they are very good footballers and if they weren’t they wouldn’t be.

“Manchester United history, there is an expectation to go and win things and that will always be there after what Sir Alex Ferguson did over a period of 20 years. It has been very difficult to follow those steps.

“Their fans hope they get back to those levels as soon as they can and will try to keep pushing to get there.”

Norwich will be without United defender Brandon Williams on loan, unable to play against his parent club, with Greek international Dimitrios Giannoulis returning to the left-back spot.

Scotland midfielder Billy Gilmour has recovered from Covid-19 after missing the win over Burnley, so he should be in contention to return to the side as the Canaries look to extend their unbeaten run to three games.