Only Stuart Webber knows who’s in the frame to be the new head coach at Norwich City
- Credit: Huddersfield Examiner
Stuart Webber is all but in place as Norwich City's new sporting director and he will immediately start working on the missing piece in the Canaries' management jigsaw – that of the head coach.
Names have already been mentioned but the truth is City haven't started their search simply because it will be down to Webber, and Webber alone, to decide on Alex Neil's successor. For anyone else to be involved in the process would be folly as the new head coach must be 'Webber's man' and the success of that relationship will determine whether City can make a marked improvement on this underwhelming campaign.
The former Huddersfield Town director of football operations will officially be unveiled this week as the Canaries' new kingmaker and he will naturally have names in mind for his first major appointment at City.
It is often said that bookmakers don't often get it wrong but with Alan Irvine leading the betting it is safe to assume they are as in the dark as anyone outside of Webber's circle.
It would be a surprise if Irvine were to get the job permanently although the former West Brom and Preston boss could get the gig until the end of the season to give Webber some time to get the appointment right.
The likelihood is that any desirable candidates are likely to be in work at what is a crucial time of the season.
A lot of City fans would love to see Webber go back to his old hunting ground at Huddersfield to bring David Wagner to Carrow Road. However, with the Terriers firmly in the race for promotion to the top-flight the German will want to at least see out the season at the John Smith's Stadium.
You would also have to throw into the thinking that, in the negotiations for Webber, Huddersfield could have inserted a clause stipulating City can't come in for Wagner for a certain period of time.
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A lot of stars have to align for the former Borussia Dortmund second team coach to come to Carrow Road, not least other Premier League clubs perhaps wanting him, but stranger things have happened.
It is another German that's on the lips of a lot of fans though with Uwe Rosler linked with the City hot-seat over the past week. It would be something of a surprise if he were to jump ship from Fleetwood when they're in the midst of a League One promotion race but money talks. As a manager he's been a hit with Brentford and Fleetwood but stints at Wigan and Leeds have proved nowhere near as successful.
Rosler is the second favourite with most bookmakers with betfair offering 7/2.
Third favourite with bookmakers is Paul Heckingbottom thanks to the excellent job he's done at Barnsley and the 39-year-old should be high in Webber's thinking when he comes to formulating a shortlist. The job he's done at Oakwell, working on a tight budget with his prized assets routinely plundered by bigger clubs, marks him out as a high quality candidate.
Nigel Pearson has reportedly applied for the job but whether he could work within City's new structure, which wants the head coach to purely focus on first team affairs, is open to question. The former Leicester and Derby boss certainly doesn't strike you as a man, who would take kindly to having a thirty-something as his boss. Bookies can't see it either - he's 25-1 with most of them.
The same logic can be applied to Alan Pardew (33-1). Remember him? He was the man whose appointment was imminent according to some that are so desperate to be first with the news. We're still waiting.
The truth is there's only one man who knows and Webber could yet pull a left-field appointment on everyone in the same way as he attracted Wagner to Huddersfield. Bruno Labbadia (former Hamburg boss, 12/1) and Jens Keller (Union Berlin boss, 22/1) feature in the betting and only real football aficionados had heard of Wagner before he came to the English game.
Few City fans would complain if the new incumbent had the same impact.
Latest odds (Sky Bet)
Alan Irvine 5/4
Uwe Rosler 6/4
Paul Heckingbottom 7/1
David Wagner 10/1
Bruno Labbadia 12/1
Jens Keller 22/1
Ryan Giggs 22/1
Alan Pardew 22/1
Anthony Hudson 25/1
Nigel Pearson 25/1