Releasing seven players was the easy part for Norwich City sporting director Stuart Webber - there is plenty more work to do
PUBLISHED: 17:25 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 16:56 03 May 2017
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We all knew it was coming.
However, when the news dropped on Tuesday afternoon that Norwich City had released seven players there was still a shock element to it.
Perhaps it was the timing before the end of the season. Or perhaps it was the realisation that when new sporting director Stuart Webber said before the Brighton match that he only saw “12-15” of the current squad remaining at Carrow Road he really meant it.
There are plenty of people who talk a good game in the football world but it’s the ones that follow through on their rhetoric that prosper.
Webber is setting about his business quickly, but he has to. The end of the season arrives on Sunday and decisions had to be made on who can lead the fightback next season.
But this was the easy part. All of the players released yesterday were out of contract this summer - it was an fairly straightforward decision for a club looking to make savings.
City want to get a lot more value for money out of the players that are left behind and the ones they bring in over the next few months.
Releasing John Ruddy was the hardest call to make. He has been a good servant to the Canaries and is still capable of being City’s number one beyond this campaign.
The club had an option to extend his contract by one year but to exercise this the club would have to commit to a pre-agreed wages clause.
When you have a young, and more importantly, ready goalkeeper like Declan Rudd, along with the likes of Michael McGovern and Paul Jones, then the club could afford to tell Ruddy to clear his locker at the end of the campaign.
The truth is Ruddy will get a similar deal to the one he is on at City elsewhere - don’t be surprised to see him in a Premier League squad next season.
There will be other exits but they are out of the club’s hands to a certain extent. It is well documented that players like Steven Naismith and Matt Jarvis remain on good contracts at the club. If a suitable offer came in for either then the club would listen intently. That’s not a slight on either’s ability - Naismith is a good player and has demonstrated as much in recent weeks whilst Jarvis has been very unlucky with injuries.
However, the club has to decide whether the money that is being spent on a player like Naismith could be better used elsewhere.
Looking down the squad list it is hard not to argue that it does. There is now a gaping hole at the heart of City’s defence, which needs filling.
The gap could get even wider if several Bundlesliga clubs follow up their interest in Timm Klose this summer.
But a club has got to be willing to offer a better deal to the player than what they are on at Carrow Road. Why would they move otherwise?
The notion that a player in his late 20s or early 30s is going to move for first team football is naive. Football careers are short and they have to maximise their earning potential during that time because you’re a long time retired.
Webber is fortunate that he has had the chance to offload such a large number of senior players in one hit. If Sebastien Bassong or Kyle Lafferty had another year on their deals then he would struggle to shift them.
Lafferty has been available all season but there have been no takers. He has taken on Ricky Van Wolfswinkel’s mantle as the poster boy for City failings in the transfer market during recent seasons.
That’s about to change under Webber, who will preside over a much more methodical approach this summer alongside his new scouting network in the form of Chris Badlan (head of European scouting) and Kieran Scott (head of UK scouting).
Webber has already managed to make savings for this duo to start providing credible alternatives this summer.
However, there is a lot more surgery needed on this squad and Webber has a ruthless edge to instigate change.
How much change will be a real test of his credentials as, judging from his comments since joining the club last month, he feels there is plenty more deadwood to shift between now and next season.