Norwich City’s painstaking pursuit of Johannes Hoff Thorup to become their new head coach was also a nod to sporting director Ben Knapper’s sense of timing.

Thorup replaced David Wagner this summer with a brief to set a different course to the Premier League, through an entertaining brand of football built around homegrown talent.

Knapper has since revealed the forensic nature of City’s quest spanned a period of months to convince Thorup to leave FC Nordsjælland, where the 35-year-old’s reputation soared barely 18 months into his first senior coaching job.

But that body of work had also alerted others in the Championship to his potential. The Canaries’ former academy chief, Gregg Broughton, spent the past two seasons as Blackburn Rovers’ director of football before his Ewood Park exit.

“He is somebody who sat atop a coach list we were running consistently in my previous role (at Blackburn), where you were looking at the best coaches across Europe in four different areas,” he said. “Firstly, are they, most importantly, able to win games?

"Secondly, can they bring in a style of football that helps you to win games, but also helps you to develop players? Thirdly, do they develop players, not just 16, 17, 18 year olds, but players later in their career as well?

"And finally, are they able to bring in young players and trust young players from an academy, and integrate them into a first team squad. So if those were the four measures, and then you set various other measures under each of those four pillars to allow you to assess coaching talent across Europe, Johannes sat very, very highly on the list because of the work he was doing at Nordsjælland.

Gregg Broughton was a key figure in Norwich City's academy before his career took him to Norway and more recently Blackburn Rovers (Image: Denise Bradley/Newsquest)

“An excellent appointment (by Norwich). Really, really forward thinking, a brave appointment. I think any appointment from outside of England, and outside the Championship is always a brave one. But I think it's an excellent appointment.

"They've done really, really well to get him on the back of another good season with FC Nordsjælland, where they've come very close to the top end of the league, did well in Europe before Christmas, and have another batch of their young players moving to big European clubs this summer. So I think the timing is really, really good for both parties as well.

“We mustn't underplay Norwich’s position in European football, a very, very well respected club, who spent many years in the Premier League in recent history.

"A full stadium every single week, a fantastic academy and I think for a young European coach who wants to make their name in the top five leagues in Europe, Norwich City is a very attractive club to be joining right now. So I think it's probably a mutual attraction on both sides of the equation.”

Both Thorup and Knapper have emphasized the crucial element in their strategy of reconnecting that academy pipeline to the Norwich first team.

Broughton’s five years at City created the conditions for a host of young prospects to emerge, from Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons through to Jon Rowe and Abu Kamara.

The challenge is balancing that with the short term thirst for results and progress on the pitch.

Jamal Lewis and Max Aarons arrived at Norwich City during Gregg Broughton's tenure with the club's academy (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

“I think it depends on who you are as a club, and what your core beliefs are. If your core beliefs are that the academy is central to everything you do, then it's not that hard to do it,” said Broughton. “During my time at Norwich I saw several different periods. I came in obviously at the beginning of EPPP (Elite Player Performance plan) in 2012 when Norwich’s academy was category one status and they we're heavily investing, but as a Premier League club.

"The strategy, which I thought was brilliantly bought in by David McNally, was to reinvest everything back into the first team to try and retain Premier League status. But then you have to evolve into something else, and we learned very early that wasn't going to be easy to do.

“You had those brilliant moments in 2013, where the under-18s won the FA Youth Cup managed by Neil Adams. And yet we weren't able to get that group of players into the first team as quickly as we thought we would do.

"Josh and Jacob (Murphy) did break in eventually. But a whole host of other players had to leave the group to have success. Look at Harry Toffolo, Carlton Morris, Cameron McGeehan and Cam Norman, all of those players have gone and played professional football in the Football League. But none of them were able to get into that Norwich team in 2013/2014 onwards.

“One of the great credits that has to be given to Stuart Webber when he first came into the club he was able to join that piece of work up; he brought in a head coach in Daniel Farke who believed in young players and he went with a tight squad, which allowed players like Max and Jamal to get close to it.

"The head coach trusted them and gave them the opportunities to break in and go on and have great success, along with Todd Cantwell, Ben Godfrey and all of the others at that stage as well. I haven't been close enough to the club for the last two to three years to know if anything's changed there.

"But, obviously, it's still great to see Johnny Rowe have brilliant success, and I watched and admired Abu Kamara, and saw him live several times last season, where he had a great season at Portsmouth.”

Ken Aboh signed a new Norwich City deal this summer (Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)

Broughton is in no doubt that mood of change would have tipped the scales in highly-rated young striker Ken Aboh agreeing to sign a new deal over the summer, rather than potentially follow his friend, Alex Matos, out of the club’s academy.

“Obviously, it's great to see Ken Aboh, who was one of the young players we signed at the same time as Alex Matos, extending his contract there,” he said. “I don't think you'd have seen that had that change not happened. That starts with having a head coach, and it starts with having a sporting director who's able to design the squad design around that mission.

“But look, category one academies are not cheap to run. And Norwich invest a lot of money and time and energy into this. There's no point in doing that in the Championship if you're not going to give those young players an opportunity to break through.

"And I think the messaging that's come out from both Ben and from Johannes is that those opportunities will now come.

“There's so much talent still within the Norwich academy that those players will come through if they're given the opportunity, but potential will never fulfil itself without opportunity. That's what we tried to do at Blackburn Rovers.

"We identified very early on in my time there that we had Ash Phillips and we had Adam Wharton on the verges, and if they were given opportunities they would flourish.

“At Norwich City, you've got Adam Idah who's had a marvellous loan away at Celtic, and hopefully he'll come back into the fray. You've got Johnny Rowe, who was one of the young players of the season in the Championship, and like I said Abu had a great loan.

"There'll be players beneath that level as well, in the 21s, or the 18s who will be thinking, ‘Well, if they can do that, so can I as well’. And hopefully, this model will allow them to do that.”

Broughton speaks from a position of authority, given his two years at Blackburn, on the shifting financial plates within the Championship that will now encourage more clubs to follow suit.

“In the Championship, it's a lot easier to do than it is in the Premier League. If your squad design is clever it allows you to have those young players very, very close for the opportunities that will arise,” he said. “If you look in the last two years, I think Sunderland consistently over the last two years have had the youngest team in the Championship. Because of that you then get other young players thinking, ‘I want to be part of that’.

“Jobe Bellingham doesn't move from Birmingham to Sunderland if he doesn't think he's going to play a lot more games in that team. You've had Jack Clarke come in and have great success.

"I'm not saying that Norwich need to go as extreme as that, by fielding a team with an average age of under 22, but if you can have a good squad structure that allows young players to be close, opportunities will arise because the Championship is so relentless.

Jon Rowe was a shining light for Norwich City despite his injury absences last season (Image: Focus Images)

“You've got 46 games, Norwich will be hoping to have 50 plus including the cup games this season as well. And what they've done is employ a head coach who won't be afraid to bring young players in, and a sporting director who will try to align it from top to bottom.

“There is a very clear model now in the Championship where you're allowed to overspend by £40m over three years. So clubs have been very, very conservative with their wage bill, very conservative with what they prepared to spend on transfer fees to make sure they don't fall foul of that rule. And the easiest way to do that is to bring your own players through.

“You've seen a completely unique thing happen in the Premier League this summer, which has never happened before, where basically young players are being traded before ever breaking through in order for clubs to clear their books.

"You've had three or four players go for around £20m, and by the way, they're all top players. But those moves are happening just in order for clubs to make sure that financially they don't fall foul of the Premier League rules, which are a different challenge altogether.

“Like I said before, category one academies are not cheap to run and if you're going to invest that amount of money into it you need to make sure you get your returns. I think Norwich is in a great position to do that now.”

Broughton returned to England after five years as head of player development at Norwegian club Bodo Glimt, during a period of domestic success and Champions League qualification built on developing young talent.

Thorup himself is a by-product of FC Nordsjælland’s innovative strategy in Denmark under their ownership group, Right to Dream.

“FC Nordsjælland provides a brilliant model for both coaches and players to develop,” he said. “Tom Vernon and his work with Right to Dream over the last 20 years has really set the benchmark for how clubs should be running academy football with everything they do.

"If you look at the Nordsjælland model, especially, they look to bring in the best young players from the Copenhagen area into their own academy at 16. They then add from the best players from Scandinavia into the academy, which is why Andreas Schjelderup left Bodo Glimt to join there at 16.

"And then at 18 they had this unique model where initially they just had the Right to Dream academy based in Ghana, which was sending over the best players from that part of Africa. But now that's expanded to both Egypt and now into the United States as well.

“Johannes has seen his own journey as a coach go from taking the Under-14s through to the under-19s, assistant coach and then first team coach.

"And I think Nordsjælland took a very brave decision, maybe 18 months ago, maybe a little bit longer than that, where they were sitting on top of the league but recognized they needed to change or make a decision to bring Johannes in and make him the head coach, and he's done really, really well since then.”