Connor Southwell: Convention-breaking, mantra making, youth enabling Webber has transformed City’s hopes
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
As Stuart Webber puts pen to paper on a new three-year deal to prolong his stay at Norwich City, it’s worth remembering the journey the football club has undertaken since his arrival.
Sporting Director was an unknown tag in these quarters prior to his arrival. Webber arrived from Huddersfield Town with a glowing set of references and discovered a football club desperately trying to discover itself amid a season of heavy spending that created underwhelm and apathy running through the heart of it.
Those occupying the corridors of power understood that reform was required but even they couldn't have envisaged the scale of what would transpire under the Canaries chief's reign to date. Given a carte-blanche, he set about reviving a football club that was losing its way, attempting to restore them to former glories with Premier League consistency the long term aspiration.
Webber's dismissal of conventions has been a constant throughout his stewardship, his desire to, in his own words, 'ignore the noise' pertinent in a social media age.
His first task revolved around assessing the squad and uncovering a head coach that would aid the construction of an identity that would become recognisable as Norwich City's own.
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Plucking Daniel Farke from Borussia Dortmund II seemed, initally, to be a replication of his Huddersfield exploits, dubbed by externals as a bid to repeat the recipe that underpinned his success at the Yorkshire club.
Early on during that debut season, Webber described his new boss as the 'best coach in the division', something vilified after a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Millwall.
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Farke's methods in that opening campaign received plenty of scrutiny, others in the game would have seen enough to pull the trigger and elect to venture down an altogether different path.
'Transition' was the buzzword that surrounded that season; it was all about constructing the foundations before pushing on and attempting to build the house.
Hindsight is a glorious tool to adopt upon reflection, the frustration felt by punters during that season was palpable, time was granted but the task at hand proved to be seismic. Staring into a financial abyss, the clubs finances shackled their progress, the need to harness a prospect genuine to relieve growing concerns about a gaping hole due to relegation.
The agenda was simple, reduce playing costs and ensure the team was competitive - easier written on these pages than constructed in the realms of reality.
Throughout his premiership, his words have married up later to his actions.
On that front, it makes his admission that he intends to seek a new challenge in 2023 upon the expiration of his contract unsurprising.
Webber has backed up his statements with action, tempering expectation and adeptly responding to challenges that have arisen. The strength within his communication makes him a character of whom supporters know won't leave them short-changed or fuel expectations unnecessarily.
This timeline now presents an opportunity to extend his work but equally, at 35, he is a man who possesses deep-held ambitions surrounding his personal career.
Given the scale of what has been achieved to date, an extension of that will ensure that memories are recorded with positivity and gratitude. For now, discussion of a post-Webber era is firmly down the track. It's about pushing on the accelerator and ensuring Premier League consolidation.
Plans are greater than merely getting their feet under the Premier League table, however. There is a desire to operate differently with a specific mantra that emphasises unity. Where many dismiss, Webber and his staff have opted for a 'why not?' approach to operations.
Why can't you build a side on a shoestring that can beat Manchester City? Why can't you play attractive football in the Championship? Why can't you polish together a team of outcasts and provide a platform for success?
This convention-breaking, mantra making, youth enabler will one day escape Norfolk for pastures new, that is an inevitability. His legacy may stand the test of time, not only in terms of the foundations he has constructed but the evolution of how punters and executives absorb the game.
At a point whereby Norwich needed a reinvigoration, Webber injected ideas and implemented them. Making promises is a simple method of adhering yourself to supporters but achieving a blueprint set out at the beginning of a tenure will ensure much more than that.
Undoubtedly, the next three years will be monitored closely by those in positions of power at football clubs across the continent. If Webber can achieve his plans, then not only will his stock be considerably higher but Norwich will be a point that seemed unthinkable three years ago.