Apparently 7 out of 10 people would consider foregoing a pay rise in favour of receiving a more motivational or professional job title. It says so here.
Evidently, I’m in the minority, in that you could call me whatever you liked if it meant an increase to my salary. But perhaps that’s a reflection of the general indifference I feel towards titles.
I work for a large utility company and my business card would inform you that I am a ‘Strategy Manager’ – a title which generally elicits the response “oh aye, what’s one of them do then?”
I won’t bore you with the details because the important aspect, as with any role, is that I have a well-defined remit and a clear understanding of what is expected of me. I also have (as the title suggests) a vested interest in strategy. All of which is pertinent to Norwich City right now.
A lot of discussion around the structural review at Norwich City has focused on job titles. We’ll have Managing and Sporting Directors instead of a Chief Executive, a Head Coach instead of First-team Manager, Ricky Martin doing whatever it is he does as Technical Director and an Academy Manager.
All of which will mean little more than rearranging the deckchairs on the Titanic unless the club can also deliver the following:
- Clarity on accountabilities and responsibilities within the new structure.
- Personnel with the ability to excel in their defined roles.
- A well-defined strategy on how to achieve its stated aim of gaining ‘promotion, promotion, promotion’.
Most fans, me included, have little or no idea how our football club goes about its business, especially when it comes to recruitment. The process of identifying a transfer target via the scouting network all the way through to negotiating with another club and the player’s representatives is long and complicated.
After all, signing a player is not the same as nipping down to the corner shop for a loaf of bread.
What we do know however is that our dealings across recent transfer windows could be generously described as ‘hit and miss’ but more accurately as ‘disjointed, disappointing and inadequate’.
Premier League riches have been spent on players who can’t find a way into the first team. We have a defence which has conceded more goals away from home than any other team apart from already relegated Rotherham. And we have players who are surplus to requirement but whose inflated wages prohibit any chance of moving them on.
It’s little wonder we find ourselves sat in mid-table in the Championship.
But without knowing who is actually accountable, we tend to carpet-bomb the blame across all quarters.
It’s why I feel justified making sly digs at Ricky Martin. It’s why Ed Balls copped a load of flak for appearing on a TV show when many believed he should have been trying to buy us a striker instead.
But let’s not kid ourselves that this is a recent problem. It’s tempting to look back at David McNally’s time with rose-tinted spectacles and laud him as the man who gave us the ‘Lambert years’ but we shouldn’t forget he also oversaw the signing of Ricky van Wolfswinkel and many of the players whose contracts have become a millstone around the club’s neck.
Thankfully – and perhaps belatedly – the club has acted and now we know that the man responsible for reversing our fortunes is Stuart Webber.
His priority will be on appointing a Head Coach, which will likely rule out a number of candidates on the bookies’ lists – those with CV’s which suggest they are used to the responsibility that goes with more traditional managerial positions.
However, the key challenge facing Webber is the development and delivery of a strategy – the blueprint for how the club proceeds from here on.
That’s not to say that the club hasn’t had a strategy in place. It’s just been poorly communicated and poorly executed. Whilst McNally laid out a seven-year plan, his successor merely threw out a glib soundbite at the AGM.
We know however that the Board’s strategy was to stick with the manager and the players who had achieved promotion before and while it’s easy to criticise that approach, to do so with the benefit of hindsight is perhaps a bit disingenuous.
So moving forwards, the revised structure and approach has to address the current disconnect between the first-team, the academy and our scouting and recruitment operations.
To my mind, nothing illustrates the issue more than the signing of Sergi Canos. When questioned on why the young Spaniard wasn’t featuring in his plans, Alex Neil cited the unexpected rise of the Murphy twins.
You’ll forgive the cynicism but surely their emergence into the first-team reckoning shouldn’t have come as a shock? Not if there are strong links between the academy and the youth teams and a clear progression plan in place for every player at the club?
I’ll accept that young players will develop at different rates and either exceed or fall short of their potential but there simply has to be greater coherency throughout the club.
To prevent a situation whereby you sell your two recognised left-backs plus loan out another in the same transfer window and find yourself a red-card away from Steven Whittaker.
To prevent a situation whereby the limited transfer budget is blown on players who are all vying for the number 10 position, rather than strengthening other areas.
To prevent a situation whereby the club has three senior striking options and one of them doesn’t ‘fit the system’.
Unlike many City fans, I have no issue with the club adopting and sticking with a formation and a system. My issue comes from recruiting and selecting the wrong players for it to work effectively.
I would suggest that the club needs to create an identity; a way of playing that is adopted at each level and which supports progression through the youth teams and guides the recruitment process.
That’s the challenge facing our new Sporting Director. But it doesn’t matter what his job title is – all that matters is whether Stuart Webber is up to the task.