Yanic Wildschut on why his Norwich City move didn't work out
- Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd
There was plenty of excitement when Yanic Wildschut was unveiled as a Norwich City player on Deadline Day in January 2017.
The pacey winger had impressed with Championship side Wigan Athletic and had been identified by then Canaries boss Alex Neil as a player who could have enough quality to help lift his underperforming City squad into the play-offs.
Wildschut is now playing for Israeli top-flight side Maccabi Haifa and admits to being nervous as he prepared to discuss his spell in Norfolk for the first time since leaving the club in 2019.
By his own admission, Wildschut never delivered the quality City fans were expecting after his £4million move to Carrow Road. Although the deal was reported at being worth £7m, that figure included add-ons that were never activated.
That figure was bandied about throughout Wildschut's time with Norwich, and he admits that, with hindsight, that fee did impact his performances.
“I never had the feeling it affected me. But when I look at it back now as I grow older and more experienced, maybe I subconsciously thought about it a lot. I was brought for the long-term, but I needed to be there from the get-go because we wanted to make the play-offs.
“They made it even worse in Holland. They saw I was going to Norwich for £8m and they said ‘Yanic is going for £8m?! He never even played here'. I was like wow. Maybe I thought about it then, and it dragged me down, but I never thought about it too much, but the club told me not to worry about it."
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Wildschut's spell at the club was hampered when the man who signed him, Alex Neil, was sacked only two months later. City then had a complete restructure of their working model that saw Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke arrive at the club.
The Dutch winger was initially involved in Farke's plans and started the first game of his tenure against Fulham. Wildschut's best game in yellow and green came later that season against Sheffield United, where he scored the winner as City's timekeeping angered Blades boss Chris Wilder.
Reflecting on that game and his first season under Farke, Wildschut said: “I had an excellent pre-season. I got turned from a left-winger to a right wing-back, so a little adjustment.
“I started against Fulham, and I remember putting two on Marley Watkins’ plate, and I thought if he scored that, then I would have been away. We lost against Sunderland at home quite badly after that, and it was tough, I couldn’t really showcase my real game because I wasn’t in my natural position.
“I wanted to do this (change position) because I wanted to play. I had lots of freedom going forwards, but I had to make defensive improvements. I played well that game (Sheffield United), I scored, and I thought I had shown that I could start. But it didn’t really happen. You can’t really kick on without a run of games.
“That was one of my best games for Norwich.”
Whilst Wildschut felt that game could have finally seen his Canaries career lift off, he was once again confined to the bench and left struggling for minutes. However, the winger believes off-field events added to his struggles at Norwich.
“People only see what is happening on the pitch. I remember a couple of weeks after that game, my wife had some problems with her pregnancy, there were a couple of times where I didn’t sleep because I needed to look after my wife and kid and when I went to training, I was tired and couldn’t show what I was about.
“I couldn’t play how I wanted because things were holding me back. That’s what cost in my Norwich career. I got the opportunities to show it, but I just couldn’t provide because of the things outside of football. It was start-stop.
“I never got to show Norwich fans what I was about and why I got the move. That’s something I regret. I was coming for a big fee and big expectations, but it didn’t work out. I couldn’t repay the club’s trust in me, and that’s something I regret when I look back at my career at Norwich.”
After loan spells with Cardiff City under 'lunatic' Neil Warnock and enduring financial difficulty at Bolton a year later, Wildschut was released by City in 2019. After his release, he admitted his options were limited, and he elected to go to Israel to rediscover his love for football.
Reflecting on his City career, Wildschut regrets being unable to showcase his talents to the club who displayed some much faith in him and the supporters who remained loyal despite feeling frustrated by him.
"For me, it was pretty clear that they weren’t going to give me a new deal. I accepted that. I wouldn’t give myself a new contract if I was in their position.
“If you look at what I contributed, three goals and two assists, then that isn’t enough to get a new contract. Of course, I would have preferred to leave on a high like James Maddison, but it’s not always sunshine in football. You have to go through the dark periods in your career.
“It shaped me as a player but as a person also. I loved living in Norwich, and I’m grateful they brought me to the club. For every club I signed for, it was with my head, and you never know how things will end. Sometimes you make the right choices, and other times it doesn’t go how you want.
“I met some beautiful people and played some beautiful games there. I will never forget this.”