In the spirit of ‘giving youth a chance’, as many hope Stuart Webber and City’s new head coach will do, and to reduce the team’s average age MFW is offering its floor to two new ‘trainees’ (not *really* trainees). First up we welcome Connor Southwell.
Stuart Webber continues to piece together the cogs as he looks to build a cohesive piece of clockwork by August.
Webber’s current insurgence has recently shifted further into gear with the departure of seven senior player and he continues to finely piece his jigsaw together while maintaining openness with supporters. Refreshing is a word that immediately springs to mind.
When Webber was appointed a month previous, it was clear he’s a man who knows his football. Russell Martin drew comparisons with Paul Lambert, which when delved into more isn’t as far off as it seems.
Like Lambert, Webber arrived at Norwich following a thumping defeat from his previous employers. Although Webber has a significant ascent to be talked about in the same vain as Lambert.
As supporters begin to get dizzy with the inevitable merry-go-round of speculation that is churned up at this period every close season, Webber begins to get busier. I’d be startled if he’s had a more overloaded summer than the one that’s rapidly approaching.
The hustle and bustle of the summer is bound to make it an exciting one for Canaries supporters; however, it’s also a crucial time for the football club. This season has been like the metaphoric rollercoaster, simply much flatter and more underwhelming. This summer’s recruitment is pivotal, most noticeably in the defensive areas where options have been substandard and impoverished.
Talking is one thing however, perhaps the most famous line from the script of the 2016/17 performance will be words ushered by dictator like Chief Executive Jez Moxey at the AGM. “Promotion, Promotion, Promotion”.
Thankfully, Webber seems more pragmatic and less arrogant. Talk of “philosophies, models and openness” marry with a much more modern approach, something that will hopefully clean the staleness which has grasped its hands around the neck of the club.
Talk is cheap. The club desperately needs a doer. A person who will simply keep their head down and work smart; the club has lacked a hard and smart grafter at senior level. For a professional club, Norwich’s approach has been, at least as an outsider, seemingly amateurish, both on the footballing side and recruitment side.
But this isn’t an article hailing Webber as the saviour, it’s simply highlighting the prominent issues that are becoming painstakingly apparent time and time again. Issues of recruitment: the height of the gap between the club’s academy and first team and addressing the underwhelming campaign and imbalance in the senior first team.
Webber simply has four months to prevent Norwich City Football Club becoming part of the furniture of the Championship and prevent it falling into the same bracket as clubs such as Leeds, Nottingham Forest and Ipswich. At those clubs, the pennies have dried up. Without promotion in the next campaign, Norwich getting promotion to the Premier League could simply be a fantasy.
Webber’s remit is to get promotion. By hook or the crook, that’s the aim. The head coach will orchestrate most of the key decisions on playing staff. Webber and co need to be absolutely certain that the new head coach has a clear playing style, is hard working and knows the boundaries of his role.
Webber has spoken in various conversations that Norwich’s squad is too vast. However, I would argue it’s lopsided, not vast. For example, Harry Toffolo remains as the clubs only permanent left back. While the club currently have four senior number tens at the club, spearheaded by Alex Pritchard and Wes Hoolahan. The squad must be younger, fitter and require more variety.
Tactically, Norwich became predictable and stale. Under former boss Alex Neil, City changed formation only once this campaign, a five at the back system being deployed away at Brentford on New Year’s Day. If Norwich can play multiple systems with competence, not only does it offer a wider range of tactics and approaches, but will also aid the development of younger players, the Murphy’s being a fine example.
Webber has spoken at length about European models. If Jacob and Josh Murphy experienced different tactics, they would become more rounded and intelligent footballers. I’m not for one second implying City operates with a different system each week, but the head coach must be open to the idea of tactical change. In England, managers are scared of change and fixated on instant wins.
Once Chelsea operated with a 3-4-3 system, suddenly all Premier League teams were attempting to emulate it. Norwich needs to be open but also creative when creating this “model”.
Webber faces multiple challenges in the infancy of his Norwich career. It’s finally welcoming to see the club adopting an approach which moves away from an omnipotent ‘dictator’ like Moxey and towards a more continental approach adopted by an increasing amount of clubs in English football. Norwich is evolving into a more modern, open football club.
It’s time to give the football club a chance for redemption.
Thanks to Connor. A fine debut. We’ll be hearing from him again.