Today’s guest blogger is Rory Clarke, who asks the question that is on everyone’s lips.
All yours Rory…
Following relegation from the Premier League in 2020, Stuart Webber shouldered much of the blame, insisting that he was responsible.
“We sent Daniel Farke to war without a gun, and guess what? … We got shot.
“What we need to do is make sure that if we get back there, we’re fully armed up and ready to fight back.”
At the beginning of this season, following a successful promotion from the Championship but a summer transfer window that included the departures of two of our best performing players – Oliver Skipp and Emi Buendia – Webber proudly proclaimed, “Last time I sent Daniel to war without a gun, now he’s got a gun, a few grenades and a bazooka”.
I don’t know if he has ever clarified as to which players he was referring to but I’d love to know because having watched Norwich this season, I’m not even sure we have a water pistol.
So far, and at the time of writing, Webber is yet to shoulder any of the blame for this season’s failures.
I’m not going to criticise Stuart’s decision to climb Mount Everest though. I personally believe that to be an admirable challenge and one he should be applauded for, especially considering its charitable intentions.
But the interview with Henry Winter in The Times is deeply concerning for other reasons.
Webber’s initial contract was due to expire in June 2022, so as he and the club negotiated new terms. It was made clear by Stuart, that “there’s only one thing which matters to me in this negotiation, it’s not about money, titles or kudos.“
He simply wanted time off to “achieve a dream … of climbing Mount Everest”.
He does not want to be known as just being a guy who has worked in football for a few years. He says that if he gets introduced, even at a wedding it’s, ‘this is Stuart, he works for Norwich City’ or ‘he used to work for Liverpool.”
Instead, he wants to be known as the guy who climbed Mount Everest because that sounds way cooler.
But isn’t everyone introduced by some people with their job? “This is James, he’s an accountant”.
“My life isn’t to appease Norwich fans”, said Webber.
As Steve Gedge put it on Twitter… “If a senior executive at a multimillion-pound business in another field had that attitude towards his customer base he’d soon be out of the door”.
I have to agree. A hugely senior and influential figure at a football club freely saying this in a national press interview demonstrates how little respect Webber has for Norwich City and its fans.
Now, I should point out that Stuart is correct with that statement – his life is not to appease Norwich City fans. His job might be, but his life is not.
However, the ability to dismiss the feelings of the fan base so easily shows a man who really thinks he is bigger than the club. He seems to forget that it is those same fans who dipped into their own pockets to help pay for the training ground redevelopment, just a couple of seasons ago.
Unfortunately, Stuart, Norwich City fans were here before you and will be here long after you have gone.
Overall, Webber has largely had a positive impact on this football club. We’re told we are in a much better financial state than before, and we’ve invested heavily in our future to ensure longer-term stability.
For that, we have to thank Stuart and the rest of the team.
But, he has now had two attempts at building a squad and backroom team that is capable of surviving in the Premier League, and both times he has failed. Both times we have been (or are soon to be) relegated with little fight and even less character.
He must be held accountable for that.
Stuart reports to the board of directors at Norwich City. A board that now consists of his wife, Zoe Ward. I understand that her appointment to the Board is very well deserved, and I in no way wish to question her elevation in the club.
However, there now certainly seems to be a conflict of interest. How Zoe would vote on a potential sacking of Stuart is rightly a question on the lips of many Norwich fans.
Would she back the club or would she back Stuart?
Perhaps this is a reason why he is acting like he is untouchable. Engaging, like a petulant child, with protesting fans outside Carrow Road.
We as Norwich fans, ask for nothing but 100 percent effort from our players on the pitch. Similarly, we expect the same from our directors and leaders off the pitch.
Stuart, as per the Henry Winter article, is only willing to give 90 percent. That shows a lack of respect and a lack of leadership.
Why should Max Aarons, or Grant Hanley or Josh Sargent or any other player give 100 percent if their boss is only giving 90?
In the article, Stuart also says, “I am ready to walk out of the door, I’m ready for the next stage of my life”.
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.