Selling top talent will not come at the price of Championship mediocrity, pledges Stuart Webber

Alex Pritchard was the big headline departure at Norwich City in January. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

Alex Pritchard was the big headline departure at Norwich City in January. Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images

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Stuart Webber insists Norwich City must suck up short-term pain to target the Premier League.

Selling the club’s best assets to generate a transfer surplus and reduce the wage bill, while building a competitive squad to push for Championship promotion, looks incompatible on the face of it.

Wolves and Middlesbrough have spent vast sums to try and crack the top flight, while the likes of big-spending Sheffield Wednesday have missed out in the play-offs in recent times.

City’s sporting director is not dismissing the scale of the challenge for him and head coach Daniel Farke - but Webber is adamant it is not mission impossible.

“There is enough clubs who have done it. Huddersfield, Burnley, Blackpool, back in the day,” he said.

“The hard part is the short term, while we go through selling (Alex) Pritchard, (Graham) Dorrans, (Jonny) Howson, (Jacob) Murphy. They were not just the best players in our team but in the league.

“Now if you look at the players we are bringing in it is harder for them to hit the ground running, because they are not the finished product.

“Can Grant Hanley do it? Yes, because he has played 200 games in the Premier League or Championship, 25 caps for Scotland, he is the right age profile and physically close to his peak.

“To expect that of say (Christoph) Zimmermann, (Tom) Trybull or (Jamal) Lewis is difficult.

“The balancing act we have is seeing potential and then having a coach who can develop them to the right level.

“We have no other choice.

“That is what takes a little bit of time but 100pc we can achieve it or I wouldn’t be sat here or Daniel for that matter.”

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Webber is quick to point out it was done before at Carrow Road.

“Look at when Paul Lambert took the reins.

“He had to get players from the lower leagues, young, hungry, maybe others teams didn’t fancy and develop the squad,” said Webber.

“We have slightly different markets now but the same principle.

“It is about not selling a 24-year-old and bringing in a 32-year-old, and after two transfer windows we feel we are on course.

“But there is a lot more work to do.

“We would love to be like Wolves and go and spend £60m or Middlesbrough, who had a strikeforce of about £40m (at Carrow Road). We haven’t got that but we knew that before we came. We are trying to do it our way and I believe we can be successful.”

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