I’ve allowed the dust to settle on Stuart Webber’s round of interviews and have read, listened to and digested everything I could find.
I have arrived at a few conclusions and would like to share them with you. I’ll be interested to hear what you all think.
The first thing is we need to put another name to the so-called Gowers/Penney Mafia. It should now read Gowers/Penney/Webber Mafia.
Gary and Martin have been accused of criticising the self-funding model, but once and for all Webber admitted, with no prevarication, that the present model HAS to change. He said it must change because, as so many of us on here have said for months or even years, self-funding cannot work if its aim is to get Norwich City FC into the Premier League on a regular basis and keep them there for any length of time.
It has now been said by the Sporting Director himself. He reinforced this by using examples of how much money the owners of Brighton and Brentford have put into their respective clubs; millions he said and then said our owners had put in… zero.
I also, personally, believe that he has told Michael and Delia that their idea for running the club going forward is toast. Why? Because, funnily enough, he was at his most honest on the in-house interview. I don’t believe that would not have happened without The-Powers-That-Be’s blessing.
Where I agree with him is when he talks of the great work done on the training ground, the number of youngsters we have had come through to the first team during his time (in liaison with DF), and we have to give him credit for his contribution to those two wonderful Championship wins.
I was also pleased to hear him finally fess up to the fact that the pursuit of Isaac Hayden was utter madness. Signing Lionel Messi would have been absolutely great for us but a total waste of time if he had a long-term injury. I feel for Hayden, just as I did Sam Byram and Matt Jarvis before him, but we must sign players who are fit on July 1st.
In no way do I condone the language used towards Stuart and have said so on here. In the incident he referenced, I think the supporter involved apologized, but once you start swearing and being abusive you lose the argument.
In terms of what offers have been put in the past to Delia and Michael for a stake in our club, it appears we have been misled, but we have to judge what is on the table now – the Attanasio Family.
I can understand that many of you on here do not see them as the answer, and you may well be right, but to me, they are an improvement on the status quo, so I will give them every chance.
I am sorry, but when I hear “sack the board” my heart sinks. How do you sack the board?
I would love to see Delia and Michael leave and give that opportunity to someone who can push the club on to greater heights and who actually has the financial muscle to do it, but it is impossible to sack them.
It is like trying to sack Richard Branson from Virgin.
But, now to the parts of the Webber interviews where I disagree.
Has the improvement on Colney been at the expense of the first team? A Soccerbot sounds great but it can’t play as a holding midfielder. The number of youngsters signed for an EPL relegation fight last summer was doomed to failure as I have said ad nauseam. Southampton have gone down a similar route this season to the tune of £143 million, and they will join us in the Championship next season.
He also said we need to keep our “identity” and he didn’t want us to be like Brentford, “a set-piece team”. Sorry, Stuart, I disagree. I think that is one of our biggest problems – what is our identity now?
He said no one watching Norwich 0 Burton 0 could see what Daniel Farke was trying to do in his first season. Not true, my mate Marty was in the Seychelles and my report to him was that we dominated from start to finish and Josh Murphy missed two sitters. I could see a style of play emerging, we just lacked firepower.
That was put right the next season by the addition of one Teemu Pukki.
Stuart says we (the club) and the fans have had two awful seasons. That is factually incorrect. Due to Covid and games being played behind closed doors, fans have seen three consecutive absolutely awful seasons.
And that really takes it out of you.
Was I jealous of the excitement that the Coventry supporters had in their successful playoff semi-finals? Of course I was, but give those same supporters the three seasons that we have had when fans were allowed in regularly, and they will soon lose that enthusiasm.
Webber asks for patience at the start of next season. Fair enough, but that will only work if the supporters see signs that the team knows what it is doing. If they start off by playing the right way the fans will get behind the boys big time.
I remember clapping the team off after a 1-0 defeat to Stoke City, even the then-Stoke manager Gary Rowett said it was daylight robbery. It proves that if you give the fans something, they will respond. It isn’t always about winning.
Webber’s tone at times is too combative, and it doesn’t help him.
“Divorcees”, really 😂?
And so, he doesn’t like women’s football, but why does he say these things? My wife and I watched women’s football in the early days, and it has improved out of all recognition. It is his right not to like it, just don’t mention the fact.
If, for example, I was in the sports industry, I would keep it to myself how poor I think Formula One is these days… boring. Can’t overtake on team orders🤬… it is meant to be a race!
And II still didn’t hear any real Webber apology over the recruitment over the last few windows although in fairness he has, at last, reluctantly admitted it wasn’t good. So progress I suppose.
He is clearly pinning all his hopes on David Wagner and the sweeping changes that are happening at the club. For me, DW has a lot to prove but, personally, I hope he does it.
He comes across as a nice, energetic, informative, and positive guy but then again so did poor old Smudger, so it really is a case of wait-and-see.
Stuart and David are clearly enthused for next season here at Carrow Road. Right now, that enthusiasm is only shared by a few.
Interesting days ahead all around.
martin penney says
Gary and I are very choosy in who we pick to guest with the Witch Hunt.
All enquiries must go directly to the roadies and if they think any applications are worthy of our consideration they pass them on to us – in fact that’s how we allowed Johnny Marr and John Squire to join us on stage in Manchester and Dave Grohl to play a bit of rhythm for us in the good ole USA.
Our fans like to think we have turned down offers from the likes of Metallica’s Lars Ulrich to drum with us and even Brian Eno to produce our forthcoming EP *[Is there anybody] Live at the Carra but this is not true. We would say it was true if it was, but it isn’t.
We are a family band with family values and our fans are not an unappreciative nuisance who we wish would spend more at the merch outlets. Oh No.***
More seriously, without Pukki and Emi Buendia, Farkeball would never have worked. However they arrived here and whether or not Kieran Scott played the major role in their recruitment matters not as Webber was in overall charge and it would be childish not to give him credit for that.
One thing I still do not quite understand is Webber joining us in the first place. With the albatross of fan funding firmly fixed around his neck from day one he must have known how difficult it would be. The fact that it has taken him over five years to speak out against the concept is worthy of credit in itself I suppose, as Stewart Lewis wrote on Tuesday.
Quite where we go from here, none of us know. The future is unwritten.
***If Stuart Webber can play bass like the guy in Dream Theater we’ll take him, But backing vocals are strictly not required, especially on *Everything Must Go*.
Tim Ball says
I don’t think Emerson, Lake, Palmer and Thatcher has the same ring Martin 😂
Us Witch Hunters choose our followers extremely carefully, god forbid we are joined by a Happy Clapper😱 ( That’s a joke folks)
I was quite honestly gobsmacked that SW was asked this question as to whether the present self funding model has to change even more so when he answered in the affirmative. And that was on Delia’s mouthpiece in-house TV station.
Has the message got through or has Stuart gone rogue ?
I hope the Board are at last listening to the fans. I am keeping my fingers crossed but i am not holding my breath though either.
ps My dear old mum and dad had to go into Care in 2014 and loved the musician that came into entertain them on a regular basis, It was Martin no other than Roger Eno, Brian’s brother.
martin penney says
That’s quite a heartwarming line about Roger Eno!
If anybody has lived a life it is brother Brian. I’m not really a fan of his politics but he’s one of those guys born with a brain the size of a whale and has been associated with so much ground-breaking work in the music industry.
I’ve heard very little of his avant garde stuff but obviously Roxy and later that bleak but brilliant Bowie trilogy wouldn’t have happened without him. Why Bowie chose him and Robert Fripp to work on Heroes, Low and Lodger is beyond me – it must have been like a meeting of some kind of scientific committee or suchlike.
He hasn’t done too badly for a self-styled *non musician*!
Bernard Owen says
Perhaps his Mrs had summat to do with it.
Him coming here.
A very fair assessment, I’d say – thanks.
Delia and Michael have instigated steps that will see the end of their majority ownership. It’s clearly a step (actually, a leap) on the path to relinquishing any significant stake. But we know their anxiety about the club’s ethos and community role being diluting by new ownership, and it’s no surprise to me to see them taking it bit-by-bit.
As he told us, Tom Smith’s only interest has been to support them (understandably) and now to facilitate whatever next steps are in the interest of the club he loves.
Tim Ball says
In a way it is the Championship success’s that have highlighted Delia’s wish to remain a successful self-funding club to be out of reach now in the football world we all live in.
I am hoping her realism is taking over from her dislike of the EPL and winning the day.
I have always tried to balance the fact that we are a community club, Mick Dennis is absolutely correct on here when he says be careful what you wish for.
You keep saying this about them instigating steps that will bring an end to their majority ownership but there is zero evidence that it will actally happen and they continue to get an easy ride through our failures because everyone is assuming its going to happen.
Any other club just has a takeover. But no, not us.
Tim Ball says
Once the, and you are right “if” Jim the share issue goes through then Delia and Michael will at least be in danger of losing their majority shareholding.
That is a start.
I also think we must always keep in mind that not every Canary fan is as fervent about change as we are.
24,000 season tickets sold again, quite remarkable when you consider last season’s dross.
So we are supposedly getting a new coach who has managerial aspirations. Now, the cynic in me says, is Webber trying to get in place a ready-made replacement if it all goes wrong?
He’s moved Hughes to a permanent position as first team coach and now we have no loans manager, unless he sees that being done again by Neil Adams.
Not only has, according to the Pink-un, he sounded out Narcis Pelach from Huddersfield but also their first-team, goalkeeper coach, so will we soon see changes in that department?
Rumours are that Rashica favours stay in Turkey with Galatasaray (where he’s on loan with) being his preferred option but now Fenerbahce have throw their hat in the ring. Is he brave enough to make that leap? Not so sure and there’s the hint that Burnley could make a move.
Rumours of outgoing are aplenty as are incomings, which look like being mostly freebies. So the big rebuild is slowly but surely under way.
The next big question is will it be Leeds or Leicester for Webber? He’s reportedly a big Leeds fan and once they know where they will be playing next season, they could come calling. Leicester are in a similar position.
Attanasio – Webber hinted that he’s already influencing City’s recruitment and he will not be putting in mega bucks, so is it swapping one style of self funding for another? I hope not, but this delay in any announcement doesn’t bode well for the club’s future. 195k shares were issued and at a set price with those funds going into City’s coffers.
So, where’s the hold up? Some people who have a little knowledge say it’s the legal side, while others think it’s brinkmanship. Again, only time will tell.
Attanasio is part of an investment group founded by himself and friends with $25billion in assets (Wikipedia), so he’s no fool and prior to negotiating the purchase of said shares all the legal side and dotting and crossing would have been done. As a private company there is no legal obligation to front up to the supporters and there’s no compulsory purchase offer for other shares, so is this just the present majority shareholders playing hard ball to increase the value of what they have?
Maybe it’s all wrong but the last vestiges of celebrity status are fading into the Stowmarket sunset. Get this investment and recruitment wrong and a poor start to the season could see hostilities resume, and no-one wants that.
John Holland says
I believe our status is a PLC and that makes things more complex
My concern, leading on from the comments made by Webber, is that Americans objective is to take ownership with the hope we quickly gain promotion with the “self funding” model still firmly in place. Then Attanasio sells on his investment (our club) for a significant profit with us back in the promised land. He then moves onto the next club and does it again with money in the bank and more of an understanding of football. Would all be fine if it all works out well, but promotion again without significant investment would be a miracle… and where does that then leave us – asset stripped and broken?! Don’t get me wrong… we need a change of ownership – just concerned that they will sell to the wrong person/business strategy. We need investment and we need it now!!
Tim Ball says
To me Alex there is a big discussion to be had in football going forward.
For instance a Attanasio or a Saudi Arabia ? I know which one I prefer despite Newcastle’s billions.
And look at Brighton, what a season they have had, but they are still a selling club.
Saudi for me ! There`s no such thing a nice billionaire or even a multi millionaire ! They would have all been utterly ruthless ,lying and cheating entities ,so for me there’s no difference between them . I`m also fed up hearing the “be careful what you wish for cliche` ” Everything in life is a risk ,the alternative is decline .
The amount of dosh now being spent by the top Chump clubs is equal to what the Prem clubs once spent, soon our self financing model will not only fail amongst the mega rich but we‘ll be left behind in the Chump. The big boys are like factory trawlers hovering up everything and we in our little boat have to find the left overs. Bleak but true it‘s a different world.
Tim Ball says
I have always said Herr Cutz that we are only a poor recruitment window or coaching appointment ( or both ) in the championship from relegation to the third tier.
What disappointed me about the Webber interview was the fact it was so tame we can glean little from it.
When he took the credit for a transfer profit nobody mentioned the players were recruited by somebody else.
He wasn’t challenged on the excessive number of expensive duds he’s brought into the club over the past two years.
The fact he hinted that self funding may not be working was because even he would have a job at explaining how a shortfall of £60 million on a turnover of £120 million was self funding.
He wasn’t challenged as to how Brighton, Brentford and Fulham have got it so right and he has it so wrong.
He failed to make it clear as to what was happening with the recent share issue.
Now we’ve all renewed our season tickets thinking there will be fresh investment this will be allowed to disappear.
My impressions were he thought we were lucky to have him at the helm.
I bet he breathed a huge sigh of relief at the end of the interview.
Why does Fulham get dragged into a city argument Khan the owner tried to buy Wembley fora near £1billion, he owner an NFL team Jaguars their value is $4billion
His total net worth to 12.1 billion billion dollars Khan is now the fifth wealthiest NFL owner.7 Apr 2023 Khan is the richest auto parts magnate in the US
He leaves Brentford and Brighton way behind
At least he can fund a top flight side like the other two clubs I mentioned. Our owners belong in non league.
Tim Ball says
To both John and Alex, the sad truth is all the clubs you mention dwarf our owners in financial terms.
It is impossible for them to be competitive.
The deals we missed out on last summer were more to do with wages in some cases, transfer fees in others.
Some valid thoughts there, but perhaps a couple of counterpoints:
. Stuart Webber’s never claimed to have recruited the players he sold in 2018-19. But it was hardly a ‘fire sale’ as suggested by Dave Bowers. He sold the Murphys, Pritchard and Maddison for high fees at the time, allowing us to both stabilise the club’s finances and bring in a dozen new players for Daniel Farke. Perhaps also worth noting that a key reason for Webber’s appointment of Farke was to develop young players to their potential; neither Maddison nor Godfrey, for instance, had started a single game under previous managers
. Without whining about it, he certainly referred to how Brighton, Brentford and Fulham have done better than Norwich. They have owners with far deep pockets
. It’s not the job of the Sporting Director to talk about share issues.
The wealth created from the sales you mention were due to the efforts of others. For the past two years the players Webber has bought would, I think, produce an overall loss, if we can sell them.
Regarding shares, as our owners say absolutely nothing and Webber has become the clubs only spokesman I’m relying on him for all communications and I’m sure he is now more than just the sporting director.
The point about the share issue is that no-one’s allowed to say anything until the purchase is formally complete and can be announced. Certainly not a departmental director – as Stuart is – without special involvement in the club’s financial governance.
We simply have to patient, frustrating as that is.
John Holland says
Part of the problem with our governance is that we don’t have anybody with a responsibility for everything at the club so I wouldn’t expect Webber to discuss the share issue and he only briefly touched on commercial income which as he said is somebody else’s area
Tim Ball says
I wasn’t surprised that he didn’t discuss the share issue John, it isn’t his area.
We badly need a Chairman.
In view of the recent history of the Carrow Road bunker, I cannot see why anyone should expect
a) that Webber would be asked any difficult questions and
b) any replies he might deign to give would shed any light on what is actually going on and contain any worthwhile, and verifiable, information.
Andrew Delf says
It is almost certain that Stuart Webber would have had to sign a non disclosure or confidentiality clause in his position as he will have been privy to or part of the negotiations to transfer the club’s ownership.
Therefore outside of the negotiating parties any details will be based on conjecture rather than hard fact. As Stewart Lewis states, we shall just have to be a little patient.
Tim Ball says
I think the only thing worrying us Andrew is how long this is dragging on, but as you say we need to be patient.
MYSTIC KEV says
Well one of Luton or Coventry will be premier league next season didn’t see any significant investment there just hunger to be there which we didn’t show but if they can do it why not us ?.
Tim Ball says
I couldn’t agree more Mystic Kev.
What they have done on a budget a quarter or a fifth of ours is absolutely stupendous.
But under Daniel Farke we did even better, winning the Championship and that first time our budget wasn’t what it is in todays terms.
Luton or Coventry, whoever it is, will find out the hard truths of the EPL next season. Without real quality spending I feel they have no chance of survival. But I am sure they will go there and enjoy it hammerings and all. Keep repeating that though and it soon loses it’s charm
I would love to be proved wrong.
MYSTIC KEV says
Hi Tim just saying don’t need millions to get out of this league but obviously have to invest in the Premier another point is can’t you name me any recent year that all promoted championship teams have stayed up as they have done this year nice to see 👍
Tim Ball says
It certainly was Kev.
We along with QPR and Swansea in 2012 was the last time.
It has only been done 4 times now in EPL history.
The outlay by Forest was actually astonishing. But credit to Cooper, O’Neil and Silva for the jobs they have done.
MYSTIC KEV says
Yes Tim, I reckon the Forest chairman had a bit of a sweat on but well done to them. Thanks for info about last three Championship sides to stay up. Didn’t remember that we were one of them 👍