We won't always agree with Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber...but he's getting on with the job
PUBLISHED: 20:00 03 May 2017 | UPDATED: 10:39 04 May 2017
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So it's been another quiet couple of weeks at Carrow Road since my last column then!
The fortnight started with seeing Delia, Tom Smith, Steve Stone and other senior City figures playing giant Jenga at the Norwich City Fans Social Club end of season event.
In the same room 24 hours later, I heard Stuart Webber reveal the now famous “12-15” figure when asked just before the Brighton game how many of the current squad he expected to be at the club in August.
We then saw an excellent victory over promoted Brighton, which included a great pub quiz question for generations to come about two goals being scored without a shot on target,
Fast forward a few days and we had another surreal away trip at Leeds. Going three up should have been enough.
But this has been the class of 2016/17.
Clinging on for a draw when a victory should have been straightforward has been par for the course. At least it ensured that there will be Championship football at Elland Road again next season – and could well signal the departure of Gary Monk (more on that a bit later).
Then on Tuesday we got the news about the Canary cull.
Sporting director Stuart Webber put into practice what he had said he’d do and told seven senior players – with something like 750 appearances between them – that they no longer had a future at the club.
There was no surprise about Kyle Lafferty, Sebastien Bassong, Michael Turner, Youssouf Mulumbu and Steven Whittaker.
None of them have been regulars this season for various reasons, all are out of contract and all were pretty high up in the “let them go” polls among fans.
Ryan Bennett caused more eyebrows to be raised - although I think it’s right decision.
He has been a “great prospect” for too many years but never reached his potential and needs a new start.
The real talking point has been around John Ruddy.
There is no doubt that he has been a terrific servant to the club and deserves a fitting farewell to mark the part he has played.
In a footballing world where there is little loyalty, let’s remember he could have walked out to go to Chelsea a few years ago.
Personally I would have kept Big John. However, we’re certainly not all going to agree with every decision that Webber makes. If we want a radical shake-up to bounce back from the woes of the last two years, we need to trust the man who has been given the job of sorting things out.
I haven’t spoken to him yet but have been impressed with what I’ve seen.
He didn’t have to attend the supporters’ club social evening.
It was the night before the Brighton game, he’d only been in post for a couple of weeks and no-one would have battered an eyelid if he had sent his apologies.
But he did turn up and I watched him in deep conversation with some of the club’s most loyal fans. I know he wasn’t just exchanging pleasantries.
Webber was answering some straight questions from supporters who know their stuff. They are the ones who have travelled literally thousands of miles this term witnessing at first hand the real low points of the failed promotion push.
The following night the sporting director could easily have dodged my pre-dinner question during the Q&A with Adam Drury. Instead he was remarkably candid with supporters - a theme he has carried on in every interview he has given.
It is pretty obvious his revolution has no signs of easing off. To get to the “12-15” level he’s going to need plenty more hard pruning. Shipping out players still in contract will be much tougher. Webber clearly isn’t fazed by hard decisions.
So who will be his head coach? I really hope he goes for Monk. The 38-year-old played in all four divisions for Swansea and enjoyed impressive success as their manager. His 48.1pc win ratio since being at Leeds is not to be sniffed at.
Get him in – and quickly before another club snaps him up.
While Sunday’s game is pretty meaningless, it would be good to end on a high. Then let’s see the rebuilding continue.
Finally, I mentioned the NSFSC earlier – and must heap praise on Diane Blazier and all the team for their tireless work and relentless support for the club.
In a season of under achievement in so many areas, the supporters have again been magnificent. Yes, we’re often too quiet Mr Webber. Give us something to cheer about and we’ll raise the roof. OTBC.
This week a new documentary film telling the story of troubled former City star Justin Fashanu premiered at an international movie festival in Canada.
I have so many fond memories of seeing Justin, pictured, in his prime at Carrow Road, including seeing THAT goal of the season against Liverpool back in 1980.
He became a hero at the club – and rightly so.
Tragically he took his own life in 1998 after going through terrible personal problems,
Justin was subjected to awful crowd abuse and media intrusion after becoming the first openly gay footballer.
Prejudice in our game is nowhere near as bad as it used to be – but there’s still a long way to go in eradicating bigotry.
I really hope this new film – called Forbidden Games – will help to accelerate a further improvement in tolerance and decency and shine a light on the remaining unacceptable prejudices.
Cricket club a great example
While City were storming into a three-goal lead and then being pegged back at Leeds, I dusted off my whites for the start of the Norfolk League cricket season with a very enjoyable game at Garboldisham.
It was some years since I had played at the South Norfolk ground and they have gone from strength to strength since I was last there.
The club has four Saturday teams and I was told they have 70 youngsters at junior training on Friday evenings.
That is some achievement.
There was a great feeling about the place with a balance of ambition and friendliness.
I was also impressed with the way the young players were blended in to the adult teams.
A 13-year-old lad made his debut against us and bowled really well as well as starring in the field.
Sports clubs at all levels can learn so much from the example of Garboldisham.
(And yes we did lose!)