Paddy Davitt: Don’t rush to hail Stuart Webber. He is only getting started
- Credit: Copyright: Archant 2017
Norwich City’s sporting director Stuart Webber has pledged his future to the Premier League club. Paddy Davitt assesses his growing legacy at Carrow Road.
Stuart Webber is the first to insist the job is far from done at Norwich City. But the foundations are now firmly in place.
The club's sporting director would want no fanfare to accompany what, for him, is simply contractual house-keeping. A deal to stay at Carrow Road until 2022 arguably means more to the fans than the man himself, who seems to be driven by a single-minded quest for self-improvement.
Like the rest of us Webber did not expect Norwich City to eclipse Manchester City, but you also can be sure he was not surprised.
The Canaries' talent pool may have been assembled at a fraction of the cost but they competed on the same pitch in the same league for the same three points.
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Webber is not one to bask in the reflective glory of the achievements of Daniel Farke, his coaching staff and those over-achieving players.
The mind goes back to the fulfilment of last season's remarkable Championship title win at Aston Villa.
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As the temporary stage was erected and the glistening trophy brought towards deliriously happy away fans, Webber sought out compatriot Neil Taylor as the Welsh defender's young children played on the opposite side to City's champagne moments. That should you tell everything about the lack of ego of a man who has shaped a vision and fashioned a transformation surely unlike any other in the club's 117 years of existence.
Webber inherited a squad past its sell by date and a looming financial catastrophe.
The former was addressed with surgical precision. The latter averted with the club record sale of James Maddison after a breakthrough season under a man head hunted by Webber when he first arrived from Huddersfield.
A club, should anyone forget, that was on the cusp of sealing a fairytale rise to the Premier League.
Webber clearly spotted the potential at Carrow Road but to find the personnel to shoulder the burden - on the pitch and in the dug out - to sift through the dead wood while coping with a violent contraction in the finances is to understand why Delia Smith felt compelled to label him a 'genius'.
Webber would baulk at the label.
He would also acknowledge the role of others in an epic slab of football engineering which spans all areas of the business from the bricks and mortar at Colney to the flesh and blood in the dressing room.
You can measure the 35-year-old's success thus far in astute recruitment, or the style of football, or the harder currency of league points, Championship titles, Premier League promotions and tens of millions of pound in broadcast revenue.
But in essence those are by-products from a cultural shift woven around a renewed sense of unity and togetherness.
It was there right at the outset when he was first appointed in 2017. Then it was encouraging words and lofty ambitions, now it is in actions and the sounds crashing around Carrow Road witnessed so memorably in that landmark win against the champions.
But the real lasting testament to Webber's work at Norwich City as he embarks on this next phase is to make himself expendable; to make it less about the talents and vision of one individual and to embed a philosophy that transcends whoever is sporting director or head coach in these parts for many seasons to come.