Paddy Davitt: Time to face facts on Stuart Webber
PUBLISHED: 14:39 14 November 2018 | UPDATED: 08:41 15 November 2018
Norwich City fans may have to get used to speculation linking sporting director Stuart Webber with pastures new, contends Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt
There is one simple inescapable truth when it comes to Stuart Webber and Norwich City.
It may be unpalatable for some to digest but there will be a point in the future when Webber and the Canaries part company.
In that regard, a national newspaper report touting him as one of the early front runners for a similar vacancy at Premier League Southampton should be placed in proper context.
It is to be expected Webber’s success off and, increasingly on the pitch, at the Championship leaders will alert clubs higher up the food chain.
Why should the impressive 34-year-old be treated any differently to either Daniel Farke, James Maddison or any other member of staff - currently at Carrow Road or recently of the parish - who have embellished their reputation?
Webber was the chief architect behind Maddison’s club record summer exit to Leicester City, after a painstaking few months putting together a deal which in large measure addressed the alarming financial shortfall facing the club, following the end of Premier League parachute payments.
It was also Webber who set out this simple logic, just after the January 2018 window had closed and the talented midfielder remained with the Canaries, despite an avalanche of speculation touting him with a top flight move.
“Listen, we are all realistic.
“At some point, James may well outgrow this club – whether that is in the Premier League or not - but when he does it will be to a good place and we will be well rewarded. But it will be when we decide.”
For Maddison, read Webber. With one crucial difference. City’s sporting director will decide when the time is right for him.
And that is the only factor to bear in mind as Southampton draw up a short list to replace vice-chairman Les Reed and technical director Martin Hunter.
If the reported Saints’ interest fails to materialise into a formal approach then you can be sure there will be other suitors further down the track.
It remains pure conjecture.
Nevertheless, for all Southampton’s struggles at the wrong end of the Premier League, from a distance they look a far better bet than the mess Webber inherited at Carrow Road.
City’s top brass demanded not just a change of personnel, back in April 2017, they were desperate for a change of culture.
Webber’s success at Huddersfield Town marked him out as an outstanding candidate; a new breed of football figurehead in an industry that no longer views the continental approach with suspicion. This is no passing fancy, no fashion accessory.
They may not all be called ‘sporting directors’ at the top end of the elite game but the label is immaterial. The separation of powers from the old style manager is an irreversible trend.
Webber had opted to leave a club on the up, who a few short months later were in the Premier League, for a salvage mission in Norfolk. He may have since publicly admitted he did not realise the scale of the job but the attraction of the Canaries proved too alluring.
There have been tough times on and off the park in the intervening period, yet the progress is now tangible.
To bring in more than £80m in transfer fees, substantially slash the wage bill and construct a squad capable of leading the Championship is why Webber is hot property.
Norwich fans would hope he wants to see this through.
You could contend he is rapidly approaching the same crossroads he encountered back at Huddersfield. Norwich, it is not unfeasible to suggest, could themselves be in the Premier League next season.
Should Webber have an opportunity to get there even earlier he would face another huge career decision.
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