Boxing clever. Norwich City will resist the urge to hit the January sales
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Stuart Webber plotted Norwich's epic summer transfer window overhaul. But City's sporting director tells Paddy Davitt the club must now be more picky.
Norwich City fans can forget another transfer window like Stuart Webber’s first as the club’s sporting director.
A breathtaking amount of business saw more than 40 players traded in and out of Carrow Road during the summer.
Webber sanctioned the big-money departures of Jacob Murphy and Jonny Howson, while enticing a number of unheralded foreign imports to Norfolk. That is not a formula he plans to repeat in January’s upcoming transfer dash.
“What I would say is, I joined in April and Daniel (Farke) the middle of May. We literally had between us three months and no scouting department. We were really doing it between us,” he said. “Now we have a strong scouting department in place that when we do hit the next windows - and I struggle to see January being particularly busy because I am not a big believer of doing much in January if the squad is settled and the spirit is right - but going into next summer and beyond I know 100pc that we’ll be in a much better place to attack those windows and prepare.
“Pre-season was challenging. We had some high-profile things going on with Jonny and Graham (Dorrans) and staffing issues.
“However this season pans out we will be so much better prepared for next summer. We are working on players now and dealing with agents and so on. That is the philosophy here moving forward, not, ‘The window opens in two days and what are we going to do lads?’
“We have our targets for next summer that we are working on.”
Webber, along with managing director Steve Stone, remain mindful of the fluctuating financial landscape encircling the club in the final season of parachute payments.
“We had two main objectives in the summer,” he said.
“One was to bring the average age of the squad down. We had an average of 29.1 and the ones we brought in lowered that to 24.1. That is a good step.
“Secondly, we had to come out with a transfer surplus and a vastly reduced wage bill. We achieved both, not to the exact level we needed to and the signing of Grant (Hanley) took us to a place that was a big stretch and that will affect us going forward, hopefully not in January but certainly next summer. We will have to do more business to offset that and other deals.
“There will be more changes. That is natural. If we remain in the Championship that is inevitable and non-negotiable for a self-funding club who loses the parachute payment after this season.
“If you look at the task that was set for myself, Steve and Daniel then come September 1, albeit we were in the bottom three, I think we can say we did okay, not perfect by any stretch.
“To get to a situation where the squad is perfect in terms of cost, balance, age, hunger I think you are looking at another two or three windows. You will always have things you can’t affect, like people on long contracts and injuries.”
Webber, however, believes City’s summer overhaul has equipped Farke with a competitive Championship roster.
“We don’t have any glaring gaps for me,” he said. “I know people always talk about another striker but we only play with one and we have two outstanding strikers and anyone who saw Marley (Watkins) at Brentford would agree he can definitely operate as a third one.
“Plus Josh (Murphy) and Yanic (Wildschut) can play in that channel. If we had a third striker at the level of Nelson (Oliveira) or Cameron (Jerome) good luck managing that. It would be difficult.
“Signing a player like Sean Raggett is thinking two or three steps ahead. He can still develop further. It is about being creative, thinking outside the box and not doing the same as everyone else.
“Marco Stiepermann played 20 games at left-back last year but he is a midfield player. We didn’t have enough money to sign a left back and a left midfielder. We had to find one who could do both. That is testament to Daniel’s ability not to be stubborn or criticise his resources. He is like myself and Steve.
“Rather than seeing a problem, he sees an opportunity. You can spend all day looking for problems. We have to find ways to develop the club within the constraints we have got.”