Stuart Webber reveals the inside track on Daniel Farke’s Norwich City move
Norwich City’s sporting director, Stuart Webber, was the kingmaker in the chain of events that enticed Daniel Farke to City. Paddy Davitt discovers how the road map led to the German.
Norwich City’s audacious move for Daniel Farke may be seen in some quarters as a risk. But Stuart Webber insists the same applies to the Canaries’ new head coach.
Farke turned his back on German powerhouses Borussia Dortmund and a potential Bundesliga career move for a step into the unknown in England. Both parties appear to be entering a brave, new world.
“People talk about the risk for us. It is a huge risk for him as well,” said Webber. “His family are over there, he has never worked abroad, he is at a huge club in Germany who wanted him to stay, because he had done a great job. It is no secret he turned down a Bundesliga job in January and would have had offers this summer. For him, this is as big a risk, which is why it took time to tie it down. He is unbelievably highly thought of as a progressive coach in Germany. It was not easy to get him.
“We discussed with the board how they saw it and whether they would be open to an overseas coach. My first look was Germany and Daniel became an obvious candidate. It was important they saw a Daniel type, rather than perhaps a Roy Hodgson type, and I must say the board have been unbelievably supportive and open-minded to this process.
“That got the list down to a small group of people and I could then work my way down through it, in tandem with Steve Stone. We got to the final point with Daniel a little bit of time ago and then it was a case of waiting for his contract and season to finish.
“Daniel was always number one in my mind. When we got into the detail of some of the candidates he was the one who excited the board the most and what he had done. We went all in and we were fortunate to get him.”
The meticulous Webber carried out extensive research on City’s new head coach.
“I spoke to a lot of players who have worked under him,” he said. “One fortunate thing with my time at Huddersfield I was almost half-German, with the amount of time I spent out there, so you get to know people and speak to a lot of sporting directors, some who have tried to employ him during the past winter, and all the feedback came back very well. It is no different to signing a player, you do your research.
“What I liked about Daniel from the first moment I met him and watched his team play was you could see a clear idea, a clear identity. When you then spend some time with Daniel and you see his character he is the right fit for where this club is at the moment and where it wants to go.
“He has a clear idea on football, his training methods, what he does during the week and on a matchday. I am a big believer in a club having an identity and that starts with the coach for me and having a belief he works on every day. Sometimes we can get caught up in reacting to a loss or a win and rip up what we might have done for the previous two months and try to play in a different way.”
Norwich’s sporting director drew heavily on his Huddersfield experience, with Farke’s predecessor at Dortmund, David Wagner.
“The relationship between Daniel and myself is crucial. Certainly if I look back at the early days with David in Huddersfield that was very much the case,” he said. “Daniel could see I have done this at another club, which gives him a level of comfort. He came and visited the club when no-one was around, we saw the stadium, we talked about the potential.
“I’ll be honest I have been here six weeks now and I didn’t realise how big this club could be when I first arrived. When you see it, when the stadium is full and then you go around the city and you never see another football shirt but Norwich and it’s the only club within an huge radius I think he saw that and got pretty excited as well.
“Then if you add the squad we have got. Okay, you can be critical of certain aspects of last season, but we were the joint top scorers, we have some unbelievable talent and I think for him he can see that. Sometimes you have a gut feeling about things and he has gone with that.”