‘We don’t send them out for the niceties’ - City’s academy chief on the importance of loans
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
Norwich City academy chief Steve Weaver has insisted that every loan experience is positive as numerous City exports struggle for game time at their respective clubs.
Since Weaver arrived at Colney, the club have utilised the loan market as a resource to aid the development of prospective talent, with ex-City boss Neil Adams overseeing the fortunes of those plying their trades outside of Norfolk.
Few examples are more successful than that of Todd Cantwell, whose loan to Fortuna Sittard in 2018 formed a major part of his pathway to first-team success at Carrow Road.
Given the self-funding model City attempt to operate within, producing talent from their academy system is integral to generating revenue and progressing on the pitch.
That conveyor belt of talent has seen City profit from promising youth products like Max Aarons, Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey and Cantwell. This season has seen more talent exit Colney in order to improve in a first-team environment, but the success of those loans have been contrasting.
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Having a Category One rated academy should mean a commitment to the players inside the walls of the training ground, with the ambition of constructing a pathway for every player pertinent, whether that means a future at City or not.
In the loan system, the Canaries have a method of exposing their prospective talent to first-team environments, where they'll learn about the politics of a dressing room and the feeling of being dropped from a starting XI.
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Weaver isn't concerned about the lack of game time for some of the Canaries players like Josh Coley and Simon Power, both of whom are on-loan in Scotland.
"We send them out on loan with the best intentions. They've played well at 23s level but then they've got to go and find out. Generally, they're the youngest lads in the group and you know what politics is like at first-team level," Weaver explained. "If they play poorly, then they get dropped and won't get back in the team. Whereas I sometimes think that at 18s or 23s, because of numbers, you tend to play."
The aim is to try and get young talent over 100 professional games before they are 21 years-old, designed to maximise their potential.
Despite the previous success of this particular pathway, City's loans this season have been somewhat mixed, with many exports struggling for game time or form.
Out of the thirteen players currently plying their trade elsewhere, only three operators have made more than ten starts. Only James Husband at Blackpool, Charlie Gilmour at SC Telstar and Sean Raggett at Portsmouth have contributed consistently.
Six of those players on loan are yet to complete a full 90 minutes of action as they struggle to make an impact.
Savvas Mourgos, Louis Thompson and Diallang Jaiyesimi have all battled with fitness issues.
So why are City's players struggling on loan?
Adams is in charge of ensuring the due diligence is completed so a player only moves to a club which fits their individual needs.
At pivotal moments in their careers, too many of those exports are struggling to make a mark, providing City with enough of an indication surrounding their ability in their own first-team.
Fundamentally, the carrot of future involvement within Farke's match day squad is dangling, with Cantwell and Godfrey proof of what a successful loan move can achieve.
Whilst some, Raggett and Husband, seemingly don't have a future at the club, others will be hoping to step up.
Whether it comes down to a wrong choice of club or players struggling to adapt is unclear, but sometimes a negative experience can improve desire or shatter confidence.
"We don't send them on loan for the niceties," Weaver explained. "It's about real life. If they're good or bad loans then it doesn't really make much difference because every loan is a good loan because they're learning more about the game and what to deal with, so that's really important.
"It's about getting them to the stage where they are done with us and they've got to go and prove it. So, as much as we think they're going to be good players, now it's up to them to prove it at first-team level."