‘Don’t get lazy’ - Webber’s message to Norwich City fans after Villa defeat
PUBLISHED: 11:32 13 October 2019 | UPDATED: 11:32 13 October 2019
Norwich City’s players weren’t the only ones who let their performance levels drop against Aston Villa, according to sporting director Stuart Webber.
The Canaries chief felt fans also fell below the standards they have hit during the club's surge to promotion last season and in that famous 3-2 win over Manchester City.
Webber understands the difficulty in replicating the type of emotion that went into City's victory over the champions but felt the result had led to some fans becoming complacent.
"It's probably one of the best I've been at anywhere and I've been fortunate enough to watch football all around the world," said Webber in describing the atmosphere against Pep Guardiola's all-star side. "From minute one to the 96th minute it was incredible.
"Now, the team won't always be able to produce that level of performance and the fans won't be as well. I get that, it's hard to produce that every single week because you need the emotion of the game to lend itself as well, but we do need that support and I felt against Villa from the start that it was quite flat, not through lack of effort from the guys doing great work, but it just felt flat walking to the stadium.
"We can't get complacent about that because one of our major advantages, especially playing at home as we showed against Newcastle and Chelsea, is that it's a difficult place to play. But I thought it was an easy place to play on Saturday, one because of the level of performance, absolutely, but also because of the fans.
"It wasn't an electric atmosphere, and I get that when we're 5-0 down. I understand you want to go home and get your Indian or Chinese takeaway in, but from minute one we need the crowd and it can make a massive difference to us. It made a massive difference against Man City for sure. We don't win that game, in my opinion, if that crowd wasn't like it was, so we need that more often.
"We're desperate for people to bring that. Don't get lazy. If you've got people next to you who've only come along for the Premier League journey, give them a little slap and say 'come on, wake up, we need your support' because we do. It's vital for us."
Despite City's tough start to their Premier League campaign Webber is pleased with how the club has adapted so far.
"Overall, we can be pretty proud of how the boys have adapted to it both on and off the pitch. It's such a transformation in the level, but also in the scrutiny. That's tough to adapt to, but overall, we can be pretty proud.
"Of course, you want more points, we're greedy and we want to win every game but also you have to be realistic. We've had a terrible run of fixtures in terms of the games and then when you look at the injuries, people will say that's an excuse, but to be honest if you took two goalkeepers out of Liverpool as well as three of the four centre-halves, two defensive midfield players and a winger who played the most games as a winger last season, they would probably struggle.
"I don't think it's an excuse, it's just realism. Through these periods, you build resilience and trust among each other so overall, we have to be pretty content with how we've started. We've given ourselves a foundation to try to build and push on a little bit."
Webber emphasised the importance of maintaining a level-headed approach in the top-flight.
"We can't get too high and we can't get too low, so after we beat Man City we can't walk round and convince ourselves that we're going to win the Premier League this season. Likewise, we can't lose at two incredibly tough places to go in Crystal Palace and Burnley and against Aston Villa at home with all the problems that we had and then want to jump off a cliff.
"We can't take it for granted that winning games in the Premier League is easy. It's not, because if it was everybody would be doing it.
"We've been on a tough journey to get here. We climbed Everest last year and we've gone back down to the bottom to try to climb it again. That was always going to be hard and what we can't do is lose our nerves after a couple of bad games. Likewise, we can't go to Bournemouth and win and think we need to get into Europe.
"We need to stay level-headed and understand it's a long season. It was always going to be a really difficult season. We have to remember that, but what we've proven with the two wins and a lot of the performances is that we can be competitive at this level. We need a lot of good things to go our way and need our squad fit, because maybe it's not as strong or deep or experienced as others.
"We need everything to point in the right direction for us to be successful, but we've already proven that we can at least compete in games at this level and we'll give ourselves a chance."
The club's injury crisis has made a huge task that much harder in the last month for Daniel Farke but Webber hopes if they can come through this spell, it will stand them in good stead for the remainder of the campaign.
"You've got to take the positives, it gives opportunities to others, giving them a chance to prove that they can also play at the level, and that's why you have a squad. These things will help make us more resilient. In these periods, we've got to stick together and keep our heads. We mustn't lose focus of the goal in hand and that's the most important thing.
"On a positive note, they seem to be clearing up, touch wood. Lots look like they're going to come back at a similar time and that's great so let's look at it as a chance to push on. Hopefully, that's done, and we'll get some good luck and take advantage of that."
Webber admitted in the interview with the official Norwich City website that he has been pleased with how the summer's five new arrivals have settled in. However, he hopes Patrick Roberts in particular can build on the "glimpses" he has shown so far.
"They've all settled in really well. Some have been unlucky. Ralf had to wait patiently for an opportunity and then he got injured when he got it. That's sod's law and was disappointing for him. Sam did great in the two games he played and then unfortunately picked up a bit of a knock when Max came back in.
"Patrick has shown glimpses. No doubt, we want to see more from him, but he's shown glimpses. Josip got his first goal on the weekend and that will certainly help his confidence. He's been there with good performances.
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"Amadou, in fairness, who we signed as a defensive midfield player who can play centre-back, thank God we did. He's settled in great and shown some really good performances. His English is getting better, so I think they've all settled in.
"It's a really easy group to settle in to because we've got so many good guys in the dressing room who make people feel welcome straight away. We do a lot of work on recruiting the right type of people to fit into that dressing room, so it's no surprise to me that they've all settled in pretty well."
Webber recently signed a new three-year contract at Carrow Road when he plans to leave Norwich for a new challenge.
After helping mastermind success on a shoestring budget he insists there is a lot more work to be done.
"We've achieved a lot and I was delighted to be offered a longer contract. I'm extremely grateful to Delia, Michael and the board for that. It's a great club, but I think even though we've done some good things, we've got so much more to do.
"What keeps me awake are the things we haven't done right yet and the decisions we've got wrong more than the good bits. Maybe one day I'll be an old man and I'll look back and go 'you know what, that was quite good,' but promotion feels like it didn't even happen now because we're so deep into what we're trying to do.
"The most important thing is that we constantly strive to remember who we are, what we are, and remain humble to that. We can't get carried away one way or the other. We've got a lot of work to do throughout the club.
"There's some amazing work being done, and we've got some amazing people here. We've got an amazing playing group with amazing staff and an amazing head coach, but we've all got so much to do still as well, and I don't think we should forget that.
"Of course, we have to enjoy the good times, but we can't rest on that. It's got to be an obsession to be the best we can be because this club and county deserves that. This club is so important for this county and for the people here. That's who we're working for.
"We represent them every single day and it's got to be a relentless pursuit to take that on, so I'm looking forward and proud to be trusted to be part of that. Going forward, hopefully I can help make a difference because that's what life's about, making a difference in a positive way. After three years, we'll see what happens then."