Over the past few weeks, a lot has been written about the future of Delia Smith and Michael Wynn-Jones, Mr. and Mrs. Webber, Tom Smith, the Attanasio Norfolk Group and, lastly, the managerial and coaching positions, so let’s, first of all, look at what we know.
His last day is today, Saturday 11th November 2023, so let’s presume over the last day and a bit he has been saying his goodbyes, clearing out his desk, and heading to the Lion and Castle for a farewell party.
I don’t fully understand the announcement that he will leave after the game. Surely Friday, his final working day, would have seemed more in line and would have saved him from going all the way to Cardiff (if he does). This just prolongs his departure.
So no handover from Stuart – that, presumably, will be left to Neil Adams on Monday.
He comes with glowing references from Mikel Arteta and Edu after spending 13 years at Arsenal which concluded with him heading up the Data Analysis department.
For those who don’t know his history… in 2008, he graduated from the University of Hull with a degree in Sports Coaching and Performance, and in 2007 was appointed analyst of Scunthorpe United. In 2019, he was appointed loan manager of Arsenal.
I’m not sure how any of this qualifies him for a Sporting Director at City but he describes the Loans Manager role as a training ground for a SD position. (Not so sure about that – just look at Neil Adams)
Knapper also performed a number of other roles after joining the Gunners in 2010, including football analyst, senior football analyst, and first-team scout.
So has City’s due diligence found a gem? Only time and his making big decisions will tell. We can only hope that recruiting a novice pays dividends sooner rather than later.
It was announced that more experienced candidates had been discarded, so the speculation says cheap option, or the club can mould him into Webber Mark II?
I, like many others, will give him time and wish him all the best in his endeavours to turn around City’s fortunes.
Decisions to be made
Wagner and his backroom team have to be the first on the agenda. Will BK pull the plug come Monday or have a watching brief on his coaching team until after the QPR game? Then there’s the suggestion that pressure from within might mean he waits until just before his roll-on contract kicks in so no compensation will need to be paid.
Could we see Narcis Pelach stay on as a temporary head coach until the end of the season and just maybe impress everyone enough to get the job full-time?
Other Candidates – No Compensation
Scott Parker – Flattered at both Fulham and Bournemouth but flopped in Belgium with Club Brugge.
Frank Lampard – Another who did well in his first job (Derby) but his last two appointments (Chelsea and Everton) have not really taken his career forwards.
Gary Rowett – As with the others, has never taken an early career high at Birmingham to the next level.
Nathan Jones – Two good spells at Luton but jumped ship when Southampton and Stoke came calling, and neither were good career moves.
Carlos Cuesta – A 28-year-old who is well known to the Sporting Director as assistant manager at Arsenal.
Will Still – Relatively unknown, but the 31-year-old is currently managing Reins in Ligue 1 in France. Born in Belgium to English parents, he has spent his playing and coaching career on the continent.
Clearly, the biggest decision for Knapper should be who will follow Wagner into the Carrow Road hot seat and, then, can they use the loan market to the club’s advantage.
BK should also have a possible list of academy players at Arsenal who just might be in the free market come January due to contracts coming to an end. That could be an opportunity for some short-term that would give the players a chance to prove themselves.
In summary, it’s going to be a busy couple of weeks and lots of questions will be asked. Let’s just hope BK and the Board can show the supporters what a new start can look like.
As you’ll probably know by now, in his Thursday presser Wagner stated Delia and Michael have confirmed to him they will give him their full backing and BK has told him to keep on going, so maybe my look into the future is void and nothing will change!