By the time the full time whistle blew on Scotland’s World Cup qualifying win over Denmark last week, Billy Gilmour had played more minutes for his country (589) than he had for his club (458) this season. While the 20-year-old has been a key figure for Steve Clarke in recent weeks and months, Norwich City have barely used him.
The managerial change that took place at Carrow Road over the November international break is set to change this. Daniel Farke is out and Dean Smith is in with the new Norwich City boss quick to draft Gilmour into his first team for Saturday’s home win over Southampton which saw the Scot produce a Man of the Match performance.
“Billy will be very vital to staying up,” Smith explained after victory on his debut as Norwich City manager. “When you have a player of that talent on loan, you want to get the best out of him. We want to utilise the strengths he has and he was part of a good team performance in the second half. He showed pockets of what he could do in the first half but we had to see another side to him because we didn’t have an awful lot of the ball, but I think he showed everybody what he can do.”
Billy Gilmour was deployed in a slightly more advanced position than he is most frequently used by Clarke for Scotland, but this allowed him to have an an greater influence on Norwich’s attacking play. The 20-year-old made more passes and had more touches of the ball than anyone else on the pitch as the Canaries. He pushed Norwich to victory.
Saturday’s win over Southampton lifted the Carrow Road outfit off the foot of the Premier League table. There is still plenty work for Smith to do to save Norwich City from relegation back to the Championship, but talk of the Canaries breaking Derby County’s unwanted record for the lowest points tally in a Premier League season has dissipated.
Instead, Norwich are plotting a route to survival and Billy Gilmour is the player who could drive them there. The 20-year-old is one of the most naturally talented young players in the country and with Smith in charge he now has a platform at Premier League level to demonstrate that talent. Gilmour could very quickly become the player around which Norwich City revolve as a team.
Chelsea sent Gilmour to Carrow Road to gain first team experience of playing in the Premier League and after a tough start to life in East Anglia it now appears that the midfielder will get this with Smith at the helm. Game time will accelerate the Scot’s development which will prepare him for life back at Stamford Bridge, where Chelsea still believe he has a big future.
Farke’s decision to sideline Gilmour, and Todd Cantwell too, was proof of how the German lost grip of the situation at Norwich City. Smith, however, is well-equipped to turn things around at Carrow Road and in Gilmour he has someone who can help him great across his ideas on how the game should be played very quickly.
It’s possible Billy Gilmour might have been better served staying at Chelsea where he would have been a squad player for a team challenging for major honours on all fronts, but at least the theory of sending him in loan to Norwich City to be a key first team figure will now be tested. If the Canaries are to fly away from relegation danger, it’s likely Gilmour will be the ones to give them wings.
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