It was news that we kind of expected, but it still felt like something of a bombshell when it became real.
I talk, of course, of the news that Stuart Webber is to depart our club. We are yet to discover for where, and we’re yet to find out when, but we know it will happen at some point.
Armed with my impeccable sense of timing, I’d spent part of Tuesday morning penning a piece around how the sphincter was already twitching at the prospect of a Farke/Webber combo at Leeds United, given that rumours of Daniel to Elland Road had started to circulate.
If I’m being honest, the eagle-eyed among you may have caught a glimpse of that piece as I had actually posted it on MFW only for my dad to call me two minutes hence to tell me the Webber news. Yours truly with his finger on the pulse (as ever) 😀
But good ol’ Dad.
That piece was subsequently binned but had been driven by two things: a Nick Mashiter tweet that alluded to the fact changes were afoot in NR1 and that Webber had spoken to Leeds, and a report in the Daily Record that said despite Farke being high up on Celtic’s wanted list, they may lose out to Leeds.
Except it isn’t. Not quite. Because Norwich City’s propensity to do things differently even extends to handling the departure of key figures.
In theory, given that Webber tended his resignation to a heartbroken Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones in March, his contract is such that he could still be here in March 2024.
He won’t of course. Things may end up playing out very quickly, but the preposterous notion that he could be here for a while yet, including playing his part in the handover when a new sporting director arrives, doesn’t sit particularly comfortably.
Not when, all of that time, he will be either be applying for new jobs or else doing the groundwork for one he has already acquired.
I tweeted out my concerns around the potential conflicts of interest a situation of that type could throw up but was reminded of both his professionalism and the fact that any club he joins is unlikely to be shopping in the same aisle as Norwich City.
But I remain unconvinced.
Let’s enter dreamland and imagine we are able to generate some decent funds through the sales of, say, Andrew Omobamidele and Max Aarons, and as a result we end up competing with, say, Leeds United for a player. And let’s imagine, for the sake of argument, that Webber’s future destination is Leeds.
With the best will in the world, how does that not create a huge conflict of interest?
I admire the sentiment. It’s laudable he’s agreed with our owners that he will hang around until a replacement is sought, but it still doesn’t feel right.
And that’s no slight on said professionalism.
I don’t doubt for one second he’ll give all he can to Norwich City in the time he has left. But he’s human. And it’s a fact that when that crossover time arrives, we’ll be getting nothing like 90 per cent of Webber.
However hard he tries, the laser-like focus so prevalent in the first half of his Carrow Road reign cannot possibly be maintained when he has so many other plates to spin.
I don’t know about you, but I want everyone at my football club straining every sinew to make it better than it is right now. And my god there are a lot of things that need to be done better and need to improve.
So many unknowns. So many loose ends. So much uncertainty. All of which helps precisely no one, including the supporters.
Our Martin penned a cracker of a piece on Friday in which, among other things, he went through the questions that the current state of limbo leaves unanswered. And, in addition to his fine prose, there were some equally cracking comments from our readers, some of which cut deep but highlighted the current state of flux.
Here are a few:
Jinxy: “It’s in an unholy mess in terms of all levels of management at the moment. Webber’s legacy would’ve been a very credible one had he just gone during our second recent stab at the Premier League, now it’s up for debate sadly.”
Kurt: “Under the current owners … we have lurched from one crisis to another, seemingly with neither sufficient cash or vision to move on from Groundhog day. Without a change of ownership, we are going nowhere.”
Ali: “Delia’s greatest achievement has been successfully convincing a significant number of supporters that mediocrity is the best we can hope for and that she is the person to deliver it.”
John: “A decade on from Lambert leaving we are left with a team that needs rebuilding, a £60 million deficit, and an owner who, despite this fact, keeps repeating the self-funding mantra.”
Roger: “It seems asinine to me he has the luxury of working his notice when he clearly has lost belief.”
Dorset Canary: “In my view, there are more negatives than positives regarding our Mr Webber. I am glad he is going and he should go now. I also worry about our ‘love in’ with Huddersfield.”
Inside Right: “Why do Norwich City always have to ‘do different’ because of the inadequacy of its owners?”
The above merely amounts to a fraction of the comments, but are all centred around an obvious theme. So for the sake of balance…
Stewart: “Delia and Michael instigated the new share issue which will end their majority ownership. It’s not the final step, but surely the largest one, to their ceasing to be owners of Norwich City.”
Ian: “I want it [the club] to be better, but I don’t want a murderous faceless regime as backers and I believe building the infrastructure is critical to avoid having builders waiting on site to see if the last playoff penalty goes in.”
All of which is, I accept, merely a snapshot of views of a few good people who are kind enough to read MyFootballWriter (thank you one and all) but does give a flavour of the in-limbo place in which our club finds itself at the moment from the perspective of some of the fans.
- The sooner the ownership issue is resolved (and made public), the better.
- The sooner a new sporting director is sought, the better.
- The sooner Webber leaves, the better.
- And the sooner we have on-field rather than off-field stuff to write about, the better.
But until then…