Best laid plans of new Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber are paying off as Terriers fly high
PUBLISHED: 16:22 06 April 2017 | UPDATED: 16:22 06 April 2017
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The attention to detail which attracted Norwich City to opt for Stuart Webber as the club’s sporting director is strikingly obvious when you listen to the 33-year-old speak about his Huddersfield success.
Succession planning, varied scouting, academy awareness and an energetic thirst for being ahead of the Championship curve mark Webber out as a man who can certainly talk a good game.
Yet the man who has previously held differing background roles at Liverpool, QPR and Wolves can back up his words with evidence of what he achieved with the Tykes – made painfully clear as City were thumped 3-0 at the John Smith’s Stadium on Wednesday night.
“It’s a great club and I’ve been extremely fortunate that the owner (Dean Hoyle) has put great trust in me and he said the first day I met him ‘if you’re any good then I’ll trust you to get on with your job’, and he’s been true to his word,” Webber said after the closure of the January transfer window.
“So I’ve really enjoyed it, we’ve changed so much in 18 months when I look back and reflect. We’ve changed the academy, we’ve changed the recruitment department, we’ve changed the sport science department, we’ve changed the analysis department, we’ve changed the head coach/coaching strategy department and playing a big part in that has been great and valuable experience.
“When it comes to a match-day that’s more when you come and watch your work in action and you see what you’ve done behind the scenes, how it’s come to fruition.
“It’s non-stop, the minute the window closed on Tuesday night we’re on to the summer, we’re on to next January, we’re on to the summer after’s window, so it’s sort of never-ending from that side.”
That talk of revolutionising a club’s transfer strategy will be of particular interest to Canaries fans, with wide acceptance that City’s squad needs a thorough overhaul this summer.
With several senior players out of contract, young players on the fringe of the first team and Premier Leagues riches drifting away, a delicate balancing act awaits.
“It always makes me laugh when I see the media in a transfer window and I hear people clambering for people on the last day and I’m thinking, this work’s been done months in advance,” Webber continued, speaking to Radio Yorkshire about his head of football operations at Huddersfield.
“So Izzy Brown, in our case, and Collin Quaner. In Izzy’s case it was 18 months to get to the point of taking him (on loan from Chelsea) and Collin Quaner that’s nine or 10 months work. The player was over here long before Christmas and everything was done (signing from Union Berlin) long before January opened.
“In January, when it opened, that’s when you can do the action of signing the player – which in January is easier said than done. But for me, recruitment, you’re always 18 months behind and always looking at which of our players are going to be out of contract, which players de we think might be a great time to sell them, which players do we think maybe the team has outgrown that player.
“So on that you’re always working, that’s a daily constant review of where we’re at and that triggers on to your recruitment plan for that.”
Webber went on to talk about the need for a team to have a clear style and his desire to buy players who were not yet the finished product, allowing for potential financial profit further down the line.
He continued: “And then the third thing was having someone who was really open to the foreign transfer market and deep down when we are honest with ourselves, as a first point for our football club, that probably meant the head coach needed to be foreign.
“Because typical English people in the Championship like tried and tested English players because it’s a cold Tuesday night, it’s raining in Burton, you can’t have foreigners. Well, I think we’ve dispelled that myth (winning 1-0 at Burton in December).
“So we felt we needed a real open-minded head coach and that’s what brought us to the idea of a David type and I think if you look at it as a club it’s worked so far, we’ve still got a lot to do, we still think we’ll get stronger in those markets.”
All of which suggests, those who believe the time is right for Norwich City to appoint its first foreign boss, could be about to get their wish once Webber starts putting his plans into action.
n Listen to the full audio of Webber’s interview with Radio Yorkshire in early February, at pinkun.com.