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'I'm really excited at what he could do' - Ex City star on Webber's future at Norwich & beyond

PUBLISHED: 17:07 16 June 2019 | UPDATED: 17:07 16 June 2019

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber, Andy Hughes and chief operating officer Ben Kensell. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber, Andy Hughes and chief operating officer Ben Kensell. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Paul Chesterton

Stuart Webber will make sure Norwich City avoid Huddersfield's Premier League pitfalls - according to one of his former coaches.

Ex-Canaries midfielder Andrew Hughes was recruited by City's sporting director during his previous spell at the Terriers, as they took the Championship by storm in the 2016-17 campaign.

Huddersfield went on to complete play-off promotion to the Premier League and then a successful first-season survival fight - all despite Webber's departure for Carrow Road two months before their Wembley appearance.

Webber now plans to make the most of his current City squad and the model that got Norwich back to the big time, to preserve their freshly returned top-flight status - with City effectively replacing the relegated Terriers in the Premier League next season.

And Hughes is confident that in the land of outlandish fees and wages, City and Webber can work their magic.

"100pc it can keep them up," said Hughes. "Sometimes you don't need that many (signings) because you've got to keep that cohesion between the squad. We did that at Huddersfield - we kept that cohesion in the first season, added one or two. But maybe the next year when we added more, that's when it went wrong.

"I think the idea is when you bring new players into a club, those players have got to understand the journey the existing players have been on before. They've got to understand the journey these Norwich City lads have been on and what they've been through to get there - and Stuart Webber will do that.

"Players have got to buy into the Norwich identity, and what Daniel (Farke, head coach) and Stuart want.

"Daniel and Stuart's relationship is key - and that's what Stuart builds: relationships, trust and forward-thinking ideas."

Hughes added: "He came in at Huddersfield, built the philosophy with David (Wagner), brought coaches in like me and then our idea in players. Stuart Webber put together a squad; his analysis and knowledge of Europe and talent is second to none - as you've seen.

"The hand work he puts in himself is top, and you're getting the fruition of those efforts - and he'll do the same at Norwich this year.

"He won't go out and buy a player for £30-£40m. He might find a player that is a project that he'll have to send out on loan that might develop, but that's what he is good at. He finds those diamonds like young players that might not be ready yet, or a senior player that's lost his way a little bit where he can find something.

"He's got a plan. He won't now go and ruin Norwich. He's helped built virtually a new training ground, the technology there is phenomenal and he's got a legacy now for the next 10-15 years with what they've built and ultimately before that, with all the investment and premier league success, they've never done that."

Hughes is currently mulling over his next move after his time at Town ended alongside the sacking of David Wagner in January - with the chance of a potential reunion at Bundesliga side Schalke, where Wagner was appointed last month.

But the one thing that has not surprised him is events at his former playing club since Webber arrived - and now it's for Norwich to make the most of their sporting director for as long as they have him.

"I'm not surprised, not one bit," smiled Hughes. "He'll find a way to get the best out of what is needed to go forward and certainly with his recruitment and ideas - his people skills as well - he brings everyone together.

"But it's just his idea of what he wants to do and where he wants to take a club. Norwich did their homework on him and got the right person, because now he's being linked with clubs like Manchester United and we've got to be honest in this world - I feel in the next 10 years he will be at a top-four Champions League team.

"That's not because you want him to leave Norwich. Ultimately you want him to stay for the next two, three, four years. And I'm sure he will.

"But you also want people to move on and do well, and you'd love to see Stuart at a real top, top club just to see how good he is and what he could do.

"That said, I'm really excited about this coming season at Norwich and what he could do."

- For the latest Norwich City news and opinion follow Michael Bailey on the following channels…

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