Why do City’s ‘Fab Four’ have the X-factor?
Talent alone is not the real reason Norwich City’s coveted youngsters have blossomed in the Premier League, according to Under-23s chief David Wright.
Ben Godfrey, Max Aarons, Todd Cantwell and Jamal Lewis are major success stories in the past couple of seasons for the club’s academy, and the drive to develop their own.
In Daniel Farke, they have a head coach willing to give them a first team shot, but for Wright they also have something else that sets them apart from the rest.
“Character is the big thing, to be able to go from the 23s environment to the first team. Right from the start. The most important thing,” he said. “Look at the four boys who have made that jump from the academy, Ben, Todd, Max and Jamal.
“Every single one of them have outstanding character. I didn’t work with Jamal or Todd or Ben but Max was a first year scholar when I first came here.
“What I mean is you didn’t have to poke Max or lead him anywhere. He was driven by himself.
“Like the other three they took responsibility for their own career, they were independent in their thinking. You can help and guide them but they have to show it on and off the pitch and it is no surprise to anyone at the football club how well they are doing. It is because of their character.”
City’s classy quartet remain the exception to the general rule where in the unforgiving world of academy football the vast majority will not make it. But Wright, appearing on the latest ‘It’s Just football development’ webinar, believes the Canaries do understand their responsibility.
“We have very honest conversations with players all the time,” he said. “One of (City academy manager) Steve (Weaver’s) big things is it doesn’t matter what time of year it is the player should know where they are at. So whenever you have that meeting it shouldn’t come as a massive shock. They should know they haven’t quite done enough.
“If we tell them as early as possible we believe it gives them the most time to get something else sorted. Psychologically that is a huge hit that might take a few weeks to deal with. You can’t leave that until April. We then have great welfare people for the players and the staff. We help them get trials, we put clips together and files with analysis.
“We give them to the lads themselves.
“The exit strategy and the welfare approach at this football club is the best I have seen by a million miles. I am not saying we are the best I am just saying what I have seen and heard.”