City boss Webber discusses January transfer window, succession planning and his love for Spanish football
- Credit: Archant
Stuart Webber has given an insight into Norwich City’s plans for the January transfer window, as part of an in-depth interview about his role as sporting director and career so far.
The Canaries chief was the special guest on the weekly Euro Leagues show on BBC Radio Five Live on Thursday evening, talking to host Emma Saunders and pundits Guillem Balague and Julien Laurens.
Many of the topics covered were already familiar to Norwich fans, as Webber talked to a national audience about his career, from work experience on the groundstaff at Wrexham as he took his first steps into coaching, through to academy recruitment at Liverpool and stepping into the senior ranks at QPR, Wolves and Huddersfield.
As part of that the Welshman described how his job works on a day-to-day basis at City, explaining: "It's probably one of the biggest misconceptions about the role is that it's solely recruitment. Now, if you don't get the recruitment right then you are not going to be a success in the job, that's pretty much a given.
"But if you take my job, the head coach reports to me, the head of recruitment, head of academy, head of communications, head of sport science and medical, who is head of performance and analysis, so that's six departments there, of which they have a lot of staff under them at the club.
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"So day-to-day it can vary unbelievably. This week I've had a three-hour meeting about our nutrition strategy and how can we improve that, and what support do the sport science, performance and chef's team need from me and us as a club to take that further.
"It could be individual player meetings, because sometimes me and the coach have to play good cop, bad cop, because he needs them to run around every Saturday for them, so it can be taking ownership of a certain player about a particular topic.
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"Then if you look at transfer windows, the work starts for them the minute one closes, the next one opens in our eyes."
Webber went on to reveal that he had a lengthy meeting with head of recruitment Kieran Scott this week, to start moving forward with recruitment work for the January transfer window.
"On the way up yesterday, our head of recruitment lives in Derby, because it doesn't make sense for him to live in Norwich because of the travel restrictions," he continued.
"I met him for five hours to go through January and next summer, of certain players and certain targets, what do we have to do next and when can we start the process of getting permission to speak to the player and all those sorts of things.
"There are so many things around developing culture and stuff, that people don't see, that take time, in terms of who can we get in to be a guest speaker to the players and the type of messaging.
"What can we do for all of our staff and the whole organisation, what can we do to make sure if someone is suffering, how do we help them? But also if they're suffering, how do we stop them from getting to that point?
"So you're sitting on lots of panels when you are discussing these sorts of things."
It was his time in academy recruitment at Liverpool - where Webber was involved in the signing of Raheem Sterling from QPR - which Spanish football expert Ballague picked up on, due to Webber's interest in continental football, even when he was at Wrexham.
"I was brought up by a single mother, in mid-Wales, all this sort of stuff, and where we lived we actually couldn't get Sky because they had no signal but that changed and it was a massive thing for us, so we could watch Spanish football," he explained.
"And I remember the first time I ever watched a game at home was the game when Rivaldo scored that ridiculous overhead kick in the rain, against Valencia in the qualifier for the Champions League.
"And from that moment Spanish football grabbed me, watching the Barcelona team of that generation, so it's that moment when I was 13 or 14 and then I'd be working at Wrexham and on the Saturday night watching you (Ballague) on TV talking about La Liga.
"So I would sit all night watching Spanish football and Barcelona was the one where you were watching and thinking 'imagine if that football could be reproduced on our own doorstep, they weren't just this magical team that you watch on Saturday or Sunday night - for me it was like, that's football, that's how the game should be played."
The 35-year-old also repeated his previous assertions that succession planning for key staff is important to him, with head coach as important as any - with both committing to contracts until 2022 during this year.
"I believe a big part of my job is that if I go back tonight and Daniel says he's going back to Dortmund, or whatever, then it's my job to know who the next coach is," Webber emphasised.
"It's not, 'oh no, he's handed in his resignation, what do we do now?'. It's okay, fine, here's the next guy.
"We have to, like we scout players. If we sell our left winger next summer, it's like, bang, here are five potential replacements - and it has to be the same with the head coach.
"Three things can happen: he can quit, get sacked, or get ill or drop dead or something like that, you can't then react, it's too important a job, in my opinion.
"You can't just suddenly think 'oh no he's gone, what do we do?', so it's about scouting coaches as well. And if you look at what we do, with Daniel, my relationship with him started at Huddersfield because I was talking to him and saying that if David Wagner leaves, this could be the job for you, as I was with other coaches, as I would be now with other coaches.
"But I'm always honest with Daniel about, that's my job, you know you can trust me, I brought you to the club, you know I supported you through difficult times so if the time comes where unfortunately you lose your job, it's not going to be an emotional irrational decision, you would have seen it coming.
"But likewise if you leave for bigger and better, or get fed up or whatever, my job at the club is to do that, it's to safeguard the medium and long-term future of the club, not about winning on Saturday afternoon."