Dean Smith has mourned Norwich’s relegation for long enough and is now challenging his squad to enjoy their final two games of the Premier League campaign.
The Canaries’ swift return to the Sky Bet Championship had long seemed inevitable, and it was eventually confirmed after defeat at Aston Villa last month.
Since then, Norwich have been beaten 4-0 at home by West Ham and were overwhelmed in the second half at Leicester on Wednesday night.
But Smith does not want the remaining two games – the first is at Wolves on Sunday before Tottenham head to Carrow Road chasing a Champions League spot – to be all “doom and gloom” as the Norfolk club look to regroup.
“We have been relegated two games ago and I have gone through a period of mourning now. I want to come out of that and go an enjoy football games,” the Norwich boss said.
“I want them to get through the mourning period of getting relegated because we all hurt.
“Obviously we want to win football games. There is a lot of money at stake (in the final league position), but we don’t want to finish the season with doom and gloom.
“I enjoyed Leicester for 58 minutes and then we had to suffer, but I want the players to go and enjoy themselves as well and play with a little bit of freedom.
“That is what we have to do. We can be looking at next season as well.
Smith told a press conference: “The biggest thing is fans don’t want to see me smiling, that’s for sure.
“But I’m a human being and I want to make sure that the players are positive because if they go into a game and see me low, then it’s very difficult to motivate and lift them.
“I’m not going to be coming into training in a clown’s uniform at the moment. It has been a tough time and we are all hurting.
“But there is a way to come through it and that is by having positivity around the group, which is what we are trying to do.”
As well as having the Premier League’s worst defensive record, Norwich’s attacking failures have again proved costly, with only 22 goals scored – and 10 of them from Teemu Pukki.
Smith knows those shortcomings must be addressed if Norwich are to mount another sustained promotion push next season.
“We have had some big moments in games that we haven’t taken and that is frustrating because we all know goals change games,” Smith said.
“We are going into the Championship, where levels are not as high as they are in this league certainly defensively for the opposition.
“I feel we have bodies in here who can score goals (in the Championship), but creating them is certainly an area where I think we need to bring in people.
“We have to go and prove we can be in the top two again next season.”