David Hannant: City’s curse of continental recruitment has crumbled thanks to Stuart Webber
PUBLISHED: 19:00 11 October 2017
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Raymond de Waard. Fernado Derveld. Jean-Yves de Blasiis.
This is not simply a handful of names my father prolifically mispronounced while they were in yellow and green - though believe me, he did.
They are just a few continental faces that have passed through Carrow Road without making any real impact of any shape or form.
In all honesty, you could almost make an entire eleven out of players City have taken punts on from the continent over the years, only for the gamble to pay off as often as betting on Scotland qualifying for a major tournament does.
David Strihavka - there’s another one. Jurgen Colin, he was fairly disappointing. Julien Brellier, the ‘judge’ who once told Darren Huckerby he was incapable of a long-range pass.
Even some of those who arrived with reputations and much fanfare found it tough to settle into life at Carrow Road. Players such as Thomas Helveg, Mark Libbra and (shudder) Antoine Sibierski spring to mind - that is, if course, without mentioning a certain Mr van Wolfswinkel, who I actually rather liked.
Now, I’m not the overly superstitious type, however, there are enough cases there to make me slightly believe the club was struck by something of a continental curse when it comes to overseas recruitment.
Sure, there are exceptions - Alex Tettey, Martin Olsson, Steen Nedergaard to name a few.
Nonetheless, there were enough failed attempts to recruit from mainland Europe that meant I felt the slightest bit of trepidation when it became apparent that the club would be looking to unearth gems from abroad.
City’s new crop of continental talents have wiped out these fears completely, and I believe there is one man to thank for this - City’s sporting director Stuart Webber.
Much like Daniel Farke, each time I hear Stuart Webber speak, I become more impressed with him.
I admire his frank approach to speaking to the media, to fans and addressing situations at the club.
It’s so refreshing to see somebody who seems happy to pull back the curtain somewhat and speak with clarity about club business. But that’s not the thing I’ve been most impressed with.
Webber appears to have a real ability to recognise a diamond in the rough - it is what I feel he’s done with Daniel Farke, but also the playing staff.
Look no further than Tom Trybull, who I’ve enjoyed watching from the first time he pulled on a Norwich City shirt.
He’s a player only the most dedicated Football Manager player could have been overly familiar with 12 months ago, but has settled into life in English football like a duck to water.
Christoph Zimmermann is another one who looks to be a real find. Just months ago he was plying his trade in the fourth tier of German football - now he looks to have formed a formidable partnership with Timm Klose.
I was delighted to meet the German this week, as he visited a school in Lowestoft.
In the short time he spent at the school, he told pupils of his path to professional football and the importance of hard work and commitment he learned.
This is exactly the kind of person I love to see at the club - let alone the kind of player.
In my mind, this must be the most difficult thing about scouting players - it is easy to see talent, but very difficult to know what the person is going to be like.
Finding a group of people that fit together both in terms of their personality, and their playing style must be a thankless task sometimes, but I get the impression this is something Stuart Webber has down to a tee.
From the outside looking in, it seems to me that the new crop of continental talent are hungry, keen to learn, keen to work hard and appreciate the opportunity to play for Norwich City.
Marco Stiepermann is another one who has impressed me, he looks versatile, hard-working and efficient - another sound addition.
Ditto Mario Vrancic, who is starting to get into his stride.
Marcel Franke at the moment is the only summer arrival who seems something of an enigma, but time will tell with him.
Of course, not all of the credit for bringing in these players goes to Stuart Webber - he has a scouting network in place and of course Farke will be involved, but he got the ball rolling.
Nonetheless, this summer’s continental recruitment has really served to put my fears of continental recruitment to bed.
Between them, the team seem to have figured out how to identify the right sort of overseas recruit, so I’m already excited for the next few windows - even if they do end up providing more tongue-twisters for my old man!
Help us get shirty!
Football truly is an amazing thing.
It brings happiness to so many people, creates bonds between people who would otherwise have nothing in common and gives us something to do on a Saturday afternoon.
However, every so often, it also creates an opportunity to really make a statement.
This can be done in many ways - we saw for example how the beautiful game brought out generosity in so many, as it helped little Bradley Lowery capture the hearts of the nation.
This Saturday, football can help the City of Norwich make a massive statement as this paper fights to save hundreds of jobs.
Simply by digging out a City shirt with the Colman’s logo, you can show your support for keeping two important local factories in operation, preventing hundreds of jobs being lost in these parts.
That’s why I will be pulling the shirt of one of the first season’s I held a season ticket at Carrow Road as City host Hull- I hope you consider doing to same.
Daniel Farke continues to impress me as head coach.
Even during an international break, the new City boss has demonstrated how he really gets the ethos of this club.
As I mentioned in the main part of this column, I visited a school this week as Christoph Zimmermann was opening its new German department.
While talking to one of the teachers, I learned that it was Farke who made it all happen.
The teacher had written directly to him in his native language, explaining their situation, and he got on board with it straight away.
He wrote back immediately and personally saw to it that his countryman be on hand to open the department.
This, to me, is beyond the call of duty for a coach, so it shows that the German has really bought into the club’s community ethos, and really gets the importance of it having an active involvement in the region.
It’s always great to see the club get involved with the community, and it’s great to see that Farke is leading by example from the top.
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