ANALYSIS: The story behind Adams’ promotion and changes at City

Norwich City Sporting Director Stuart Webber and Neil Adams watch from the stands during the Premier

Neil Adams, right, sat behind sporting director Stuart Webber during Norwich City's recent loss to Watford at Carrow Road - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

It is evolution rather than revolution at Norwich City as a reshuffle of senior staff behind the scenes is revealed. 

Those making assumptions about the future of City’s sporting director role may want to be wary as well, amid the uncertainty about whether Stuart Webber will depart next summer – particularly in light of the current Premier League struggles. 

Canaries supporters have known changes to the backroom staff were on the way ever since confirmation early last month that head of recruitment Kieran Scott was Middlesbrough-bound to work as the Championship club’s head of football. 

City have a staff turnover just as all big companies do, such as Chris Jones, who left his role as lead domestic and European scout this summer to become UK and international scout at Crystal Palace. 

Not all changes are mysterious. Staff and players have personal lives as well and not all changes make it onto the radar of supporters. 

The new role of assistant sporting director being created is very much of interest for fans though – and not just because it’s being fulfilled by highly-respected club legend Neil Adams. 

Scott’s move to Boro, having previously gone public with ambitions to become a sporting director, led to head of performance and recruitment analysis Lee Dunn taking on more responsibility as he continued to work closely with Webber and head coach Daniel Farke. 

Previously an analyst at Torquay, Bristol Rovers and Everton, Dunn has been moving through the ranks at City since joining in 2013 – an ethos that the Canaries have with staff in a similar manner to the emphasis on developing academy players - and now becomes head of recruitment.

Tying the strands together is Adams, the former City midfielder, manager and academy coach, who has built strong relationships since the new structure was kicked off by the appointment of Webber in April 2017. 

At the time, the former Everton and Oldham player was loans manager, returning in his new role after resigning from first-team duty in January 2015 with promotion hopes drifting. 

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As a Hall of Fame member and penalty expert who scored 30 goals in 206 games for the Canaries between 1994 and 1999, joint majority shareholders Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones were keen to ensure that wouldn’t mean a permanent parting – with Bryan Gunn’s spell as manager in 2009 no doubt playing a part in that thinking. 

So the man who had led City’s under-18s to FA Youth Cup glory in 2013 got on with the job. 

Successful loan spells for players including the Murphy twins, James Maddison, Ben Godfrey and Todd Cantwell, combined with Farke’s willingness to give youth a chance, made Adams an important cog in the machine. 

As a trusted confidante of Webber – who hailed Adams’ combined 20 years of service for City recently in the club’s matchday programme – his added responsibility is seen as a natural progression rather than a drastic change. 

Also in the mix is former Canaries midfielder Andrew Hughes, taking on the loans role from Adams, and John Iga as head of data and innovation. Both arrived this summer having previously worked with Webber and head of football development Steve Weaver at Huddersfield. 

Webber’s roots are in recruitment and while City’s self-funded budgets have meant a mixture of transfer hits and misses, that is the crucial focus of his role as head of the football department, constantly planning for the future. 

It’s expected that Adams will not just lighten the load in terms of the day-to-day responsibilities but also ensure there is a clear structure in place if, for example, Webber were to go abroad for an in-depth scouting trip or to initiate transfer negotiations in person – jobs which have been difficult during the Covid-19 pandemic. 

If Webber isn’t at the Lotus Training Centre, Adams is the man in charge, getting on with the day-to-day issues and ensuring his busy boss doesn’t get bogged down by minor issues. 

Many will assume that means that if the Welshman does decide to move on to a new challenge when his contract expires next summer, as he has previously suggested, then Adams will be the chief candidate as successor. 

It’s our understanding that is not necessarily the case though, particularly when Farke and Webber are currently under plenty of pressure after the worst start to a season in the club’s history, which could equal a Premier League record if it stretches to seven straight defeats at Burnley on Saturday. 

Adams could well be in that conversation but after his nine-month stint as manager previously, that would clearly be a delicate decision, particularly if coming at a time when the club’s fortunes are in need of a revamp and a fresh start. 

Yet in the short term, City have settled on the structure that they believe will allow them to proceed smoothly and make the best of their resources, with Webber having also admitted the impacts of the pandemic on football and wider life could mean he is willing to stay longer – if he is the man the Canaries still want as their sporting director. 

NCFC EXTRA: The men at the heart of Norwich City's reshuffle

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