Andrew Lawn has done some digging into City's new Sporting Director.
Who is he and what does he do?
Stuart Webber may not be a household name among football fans, but his appointment as Sporting Director at Norwich City is a real coup for the club and could signal a marked shift in the future make-up of City sides.
Webber has been brought in from promotion chasing Huddersfield Town, where he held the position of ‘Football Operations Director’, which according to an interview he gave to the official Huddersfield Town website back in 2015, appears identical in all but name to the role he will be fulfilling at Carrow Road.
“At Huddersfield there is a focus on recruitment and scouting, which is a massive part of my job, but I’ll also be supporting the Academy, the Medical Department and the Sports Science operations. It’s a broader view of the entire club rather than simply recruitment. These functions work together and give the Manager, coaches and players the best opportunity to perform well and win. This all needs planning and controlling in a coordinated way from day to day.”
“Compared to the continent, the Football Operations role is still quite a new one in England and I’m sure a lot of people are still getting used to it. It’s essential in the Championship in my opinion and lots of new appointments are being made."
Initially working with Chris Powell, Webber oversaw the appointment of David Wagner, then manager at Borussia Dortmund II, as part of a plan to overhaul the entire club culture at the John Smith’s Stadium. Again telling htafc.com;
“Huddersfield were like a club that had won a raffle to be in the Championship. The focus wasn’t on winning, it was all about survival and there was no identity. To be frank, it was boring to watch Huddersfield and I wouldn’t have paid £350 or whatever for a season ticket. The club needed a cultural shift, a plan and we needed to do something drastic in terms of appointing a head coach who could help create an identity.”
Webber, who is in his early 30s, joined The Terriers from Wolves, replacing another man linked to the Sporting Director vacancy, Ross Wilson, who joined Southampton. Despite his young age, Webber has worked at all levels of English football, with spells at Liverpool, QPR and Wrexham.
“I’ve worked at both ends of the spectrum. I started my career in the Conference at Wrexham, where we had scarce resources to work with, and went to the other end of the scale when I moved to Liverpool; there money was almost no object and I was watching the best players in the world.
“I worked on Under-19 recruitment at Liverpool and that has given me a good grounding in how Academy football works. I’ve subsequently worked in the First Team setup at Wolves and I feel like that has helped me become rounded.”
Seen as integral to the success Huddersfield have had (who according to The Telegraph have a wage bill under £12 million and on a par with Rotherham United), Webber comes highly-rated and has recently been linked with high profile jobs north of the border, including at both Celtic and Rangers.