Stuart Webber has been the architect behind a lot of what has made Norwich City good in recent years - in that sense, it is no wonder that Chelsea have cast their eyes towards him.

Within the game he has a glowing reputation as one of the best sporting directors in the country alongside Dan Ashworth at Newcastle and Michael Edwards, who recently left Liverpool for a career break.

Whilst his CV may not yet be as glittering as those mentioned, he is highly rated and his work at Norwich is deeply respected by many across the game.

That's in spite of questions around Norwich's recruitment in the Premier League or some of the other criticisms that can be levelled towards him.

When it comes to Webber, some supporters seem to forget the good and only wish to remember the bad.

In spite of last season's recruitment being nowhere near good enough, Webber has played a transformative role at Norwich - impacting various facets of the club and driving it forward.

Premier League recruitment is a different beast to signing players in the Championship or even abroad. You just need to look at Nottingham Forest as a pertinent example of how it can go wrong in the other direction.

The Pink Un: Stuart Webber and Dean Smith have a big job on their hands at Norwich City.Stuart Webber and Dean Smith have a big job on their hands at Norwich City. (Image: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant 2021)

After Norwich unveiled Billy Gilmour, Ozan Kabak and Milot Rashica, among plenty of others, I didn't see anybody sticking their head above the parapet to declare it a negative window - why would they? On paper, they were exciting signings that made sense.

It felt like it would be enough. It didn't transpire in that way. That is recruitment in a nutshell. You can do your homework and apply the science to getting a player in the door but sometimes it just doesn't work out.

All it proved was that Norwich's market for signing players is limited. Due to their lack of financial muscle power, they have to sign from a pool of players that could blossom into Premier League talent.

That would be tough for whoever was heading it up - be it Webber or anyone else. It is just the nature of Norwich's existence.

That means taking risks - perhaps the criticism is that very few paid off when Norwich needed them to, even if they are beginning to see Josh Sargent bear fruit in the Championship.

They were players signed for the Premier League. When applied against that, Norwich and Webber failed to deliver.

But to merely assess Webber on the shortcomings of one transfer window is short-sighted; you have to look at the club he inherited compared to the one that stands before us all today.

In 2017, Norwich had a gaping financial hole, their training ground consisted of portable buildings, and their gym was in the conservatory - plus a squad that possessed a host of older players on big wages who they were struggling to shift.

There wasn't a flow of youth talent emerging from their academy and there was a staleness about the place.

The Pink Un: Liam Gibbs has impressed for Norwich City this season.Liam Gibbs has impressed for Norwich City this season. (Image: (C)Focus Images 7813 022858)

That isn't the case now. Jamal Lewis and Ben Godfrey have come through. Jon Rowe and Tony Springett were two real causes for positivity at the end of last season.

Andrew Omobamidele and Liam Gibbs, although not a graduate of Norwich's academy, has also impressed in the first team. That's before you mention Max Aarons, who is closing in on 200 appearances for the club.

It needed somebody to shake up the club and modernise it. Webber was that man who was willing to look to the long term and soak up some pain in the process.

He was faced with a rebuild and managed that successfully in tough circumstances. In years to come, his legacy will be fondly remembered by supporters, even if there is some disappointment around last season lingering.

It's understandable why there are frustrations, but nobody can look at the job Webber has done over the past five years and come to any other conclusion that he has done more good for the club than bad.

Norwich have better infrastructure, be it through resources or coaching frameworks, and recruit players in smarter ways than they did previously. He has managed to attract top young talent, but also ensured the club get big fees when it comes to them moving on.

Let's be honest - if Webber did master the Premier League recruitment or got every big decision right, then he would have left for bigger and better things way before now.

All those shortcomings have proven is that he is human and makes mistakes. I've been as critical of last season's recruitment as anyone, but this current team does look capable of competing even in spite of a little blip in recent matches.

Norwich's model requires a degree of risk taking. Sometimes they don't come off - that is the long and short of it. For every Emi Buendia there is a Milot Rashica. For every Teemu Pukki there is a Ben Marshall.

That happens at Liverpool, let alone Norwich City.

They have never been the sort of club to spend £20m on players - that doesn't look like changing anytime soon. That means the need to take risks and the type of player they recruit will be the same next time around, the hope is that Webber will have learned what didn't work last time.

The toxicity around the club towards the end of last season was largely created by the performances in the Premier League. Webber must absorb some of the blame - but he wasn't solely responsible.

The Pink Un: Norwich City's Colney training centre has been revamped under Stuart Webber.Norwich City's Colney training centre has been revamped under Stuart Webber. (Image: Archant)

The criticism that has arrived due to his desire to climb Mount Everest for a local charity is bonkers and unfair.

Football may be his line of work, but it doesn't need to be his life. We all need to switch off and challenge ourselves at different things. Players do exactly the same, albeit in other ways.

Webber has worked with drive and intensity since walking the door at Norwich. His commitment has never wavered. Even when opportunities to move elsewhere have popped up, he has remained loyal to the club.

For all the criticism and mistakes, would Norwich be able to attract a better sporting director at this moment in time? That is highly questionable.

The fact Chelsea are interested in his services should serve as a reminder in itself as to how highly Webber is rated within the game.

Losing him would be a major loss to the football club, Dean Smith and the majority shareholders. Nobody understands the processes or mission of the club better than him.

Deep down, there will be a burning desire to finish what he has started at Carrow Road, but opportunities like Chelsea don't present themselves often - it would be the same for any player if Graham Potter picked up the phone and wanted to take them to Stamford Bridge.

One day, Webber will leave Carrow Road and he does so with the club already in a better position than he found it. Perhaps he deserves a bit more credit for what he has achieved since arriving in 2017.

Particularly as they search for a Premier League return, they cannot afford to lose him at what is a crucial juncture for the club.