David Wagner: Norwich City name former Huddersfield boss as new head coach

David Wagner
David Wagner managed Swiss side Young Boys in the Champions League last season

Norwich City have appointed former Huddersfield Town boss David Wagner as their new head coach on a 12-month rolling contract.

The 51-year-old succeeds Dean Smith, who was sacked the day after his side’s defeat at Luton Town on 26 December.

Wagner guided the Terriers to Premier League promotion in 2017 and kept them in the top flight for a season before leaving by mutual consent in 2019.

“This is a very special and proud moment,” he told the club website.external-link

“To be here, back in England, as the head coach of Norwich City is a huge honour.

“I’m very pleased with what I have seen so far. The facilities at the Lotus Training Center are top class. We now have to look forward and work extremely hard.

“This is a new challenge for us all. Will it be easy? No. We have to leave what has happened in the past behind. If we want success, we have to be together. Together as a group of players, backroom staff and supporters.”

Wagner, who will take charge for Sunday’s FA Cup third round tie at home to Blackburn, is joined by Christophe Buhler as assistant head coach. Current Canaries loan player manager Andrew Hughes becomes first-team coach.

Wagner last worked as boss of Swiss side Young Boys. His stint in Bern lasted just eight months, and included a Champions League group stage win against Manchester United, but it ended in March 2022 when Young Boys were a distant second in their attempt to defend their Swiss title.

Prior to that he was appointed boss of German giants Schalke, but he lasted just one full season having finished in the bottom half of the Bundesliga.

He was sacked just two games into his second campaign, following an 8-0 defeat by Bayern Munich and a 3-1 home loss to Werder Bremen.

Wagner’s return to English football with Championship side Norwich will again see him work with Canaries sporting director Stuart Webber, a key figure who brought the Germany-born former United States international to Huddersfield as a relative unknown in 2015.

He takes over a Canaries side that are 11th in the Championship table, having collected just one point from a possible 12 since mid-December.

Despite the poor run, which has seen them win just one of their five games since the resumption following the World Cup break, they are just three points outside the play-off spots.

Norwich were relegated from the Premier League last season under Smith and were again favorites to go straight back up, having won the Championship title in their past two promotion-winning campaigns in 2019 and 2021.

Those were both achieved under German Daniel Farke, who was sacked in November 2021 when they were bottom of the Premier League after 11 games.

They failed to improve, finishing 20th as they were relegated back into the second tier.

Appointment ‘ticks a lot of boxes’

Analysis – BBC Radio Norfolk’s Norwich City commentator Chris Goreham

When Norwich City sacked Dean Smith last month, sporting director Stuart Webber made it clear the club’s ambition for this season remains an immediate return to the Premier League.

It currently looks a long way off.

A run of three wins in 15 Championship games has seen them drop to 11th. They were top at the start of October but now trail Sheffield United, who are second, by 15 points and sit 20 behind leaders Burnley.

To stand a chance of saving their season, the Canaries needed someone who could hit the ground running. David Wagner’s CV includes promotion with Huddersfield. It was Webber who appointed him at the Terriers so the duo have a proven working relationship and will want to prove they can pick up where they left off.

If it doesn’t work this time the pressure will build on Webber. A miserable run of one win in nine Championship matches at Carrow Road means that one of Wagner’s first tasks will be to build bridges towards an increasingly disillusioned fanbase.

The Canaries have recently welcomed American millionaire Mark Attanasio, the owner of the Milwaukee Brewers baseball team, onto the board. Wagner played international football for the United States, so that’s another important relationship that could blossom.

Wagner ticks a lot of boxes. His task now is to get more out of a squad that was expected to do so much better this season ..

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