Josh Sargent will soon be playing under his third permanent coach at Norwich, after Dean Smith was let go by the club following a string of poor results.
The USMNT starter has enjoyed a fine season thus far in the Championship under Smith, starting in 20 of the team’s 24 games, netting nine goals and picking up a pair of assists.
This resurgence, after a difficult prior year in the Canaries’ relegation campaign, led to his selection for Gregg Berhalter‘s 2022 World Cup squad, where he played in all three group games for the USMNT, starting against Wales and Iran.
However, after Norwich’s 2-1 road loss at Luton on Boxing Day, a result that left them 12 points adrift of the automatic promotion spots, the team cut ties with the 51 year-old Smith.
“Norwich City have today parted company with head coach Dean Smith,” they announced on Tuesday. “As the club continues to work towards its on-field objectives this season, the board believe that it is the right time to make this transition.”
Smith took the reigns in November 2021 as the Canaries tried to find any way to survive their Premier League campaign, however they finished an unsurprising last-place, a full 16 points from safety.
While the team was certainly in the promotion hunt in the current Championship season, where they are currently in fifth, a recent run that included three losses in their last four was enough to cue the club to find a new coach.
“The club will now work to identify and appoint a new head coach that is able to deliver both the level of performances required to challenge at the top end of the league whilst implementing a consistent style of play.”
Despite his firing, Smith could be partially credited with Sargent’s resurgence in the Championship, as he has made the American his preferred center forward starting in mid-August, triggering a strong run of form.
Whoever takes the reigns will be the 22 year-old’s third full-time head coach since he joined the team in August, 2021. While Sargent has not scored since returning from the World Cup, his body of work this season will likely give him a strong leg-up on keeping his spot in the starting XI.
Currently there is no heavily-rumored favorite to take over the job, however two names that are likely to come up, even if mostly in US fan circles, will be Berhalter and former Stuttgart coach Pellegrino Matarazzo.
Berhalter’s contract with US Soccer is expected to expire in the coming days with no official word yet on a possible extension. Should he be cut loose, surely to the delight of many fans, his name would immediately be thrown into the mix for the Norwich job.
Matarazzo was let go by Stuttgart in October after nearly three seasons at the helm. Even though the American’s entire coaching career has been in Germany thus far, he is still running as high as 10/1 odds to take over the reigns by several bookmakers.
Sargent and Norwich will likely play several games under the interim team of Steve Weaver and Allan Russell, beginning with Friday’s home game against Reading, and a visit from Watford three days later.