Rarely can much be taken from an in-house introductory interview.

Ben Knapper's first words as Norwich City sporting director were eagerly anticipated and stoked up conversation, but they were nothing sensational and wouldn't be expected to be.

There was the usual excitement about opportunity and nods to conversations being had, the word 'process' used a handful of times to convey the time needed to really shake things up. But what City fans were really there for was a recognition of the situation they found themselves in, and a plan as to how their club would execute it.

The good news on that front was that Knapper admitted there was work to do, and went as far as stating that his top priority was affecting the men's senior team. Quite how that happens was not revealed, but there's a point in time most of those supporters will be looking at as the first opportunity for their new leader to make his mark: January.

Sporting directors, although not solely responsible for transfers in the way an old-school head of recruitment was, are judged largely on their ability to sign good players for less money than their worth and sell them for more. That's what earned Stuart Webber such plaudits in 2019, and significant criticism thereafter.

Norwich Evening News: Stuart Webber was judged mainly on his recruitment for the CanariesStuart Webber was judged mainly on his recruitment for the Canaries (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

So the winter window will be the first time Knapper is really evaluated by his new public, unless results turn against David Wagner again, that is. But as simple as it sounds, he'll navigate a barren and complicated landscape early next year, and there's more nuance to it than he'd like.

Staring him in the face will be the finances that have haunted the Canaries throughout their history; rarely have Norwich City had much to spend, even less so in January, and that will be the case once more in 2024.

This year's accounts make for rather grim reading and are evidence of that, with a £96million total debt the most alarming headline. That is not a good look for a club whose communication has constantly centred around sustainability, and it won't be conducive to significant transfer fees in even the medium term.

If Knapper is to make a difference in January he'll have to do it with shrewd signings and penny pinching at every available opportunity. City themselves have proven that's doable at this level with their shoestring budget Championship winners of 2019 and misfit medallists of 2011.

One route he may wish to go down, and perhaps the obvious one, is loans. That's the background from which he came, having managed them at Arsenal, and it's a proven avenue of success for other clubs in the second division.

The success rate in that market has been limited for Norwich in recent years, but under a new regime headed by an expert in loans he'll hope their fortunes turn in that particular arena if opting to utilise it.

Norwich Evening News: City signed Marquinhos on loan from Ben Knapper's Arsenal last seasonCity signed Marquinhos on loan from Ben Knapper's Arsenal last season (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

The 36-year-old admitted in that interview that temporary moves were a main strength of his, but asserted the many strings to the bow he brings to Carrow Road.

On the other side of the coin, one of the ones he may need is negotiation, the ability to sell players for as much as possible. Lacking from the accounts of 2022-23 were any significant sales, an ominous gap given the departures of Emi Buendia, Ben Godfrey, Jamal Lewis, James Maddison and more.

There were £21.4million of transfer money added to the post-balance sheet events section of those accounts, but more will need to be made up for City to secure their financial future. The two many are already fretting over are Jonathan Rowe and Gabriel Sara.

Knapper's negotiation skills may be required the most with Rowe, who by January will have only 18 months left of a relatively unlucrative deal in NR1. Tying the English under-21 international to a longer-term contract may also be a priority, but the vultures will almost certainly be swirling in the mid-season recruitment dash.

Sara was quick to cool fears of his exit at a recent fans' forum in Great Yarmouth, and is known to be very happy in this part of the world. With the temptation of Premier League suitors, which appears likely given those previously interested, that may well change slightly, however.

Norwich Evening News: Gabriel Sara is expected to attract interest in JanuaryGabriel Sara is expected to attract interest in January (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

What cannot be doubted is that things must improve somehow, and Knapper's recognition of that was a sign of progress. Many have already blamed the head coach, others will be looking elsewhere, and transfers are always a key part of the discussion.

January is indeed the new boss' chance to make his mark in that realm, but the context he arrives in won't make that easy.