Norwich City legends and commercial ambassadors Grant Holt and Adam Drury hosted a question and answer session with Head Coach Daniel Farke and Sporting Director Stuart Webber in Tampa Bay.
Speaking in front of a small party of commercial guests who have joined the Club on the trip, Farke and Webber spoke about the cultural changes at the Club, Academy players moving into the First Team and the benefits of the trip.
Here are some of the questions and answers from the afternoon….
Stuart are you pleased with how things have gone in the 18 months you’ve been at Norwich City?
Stuart: “Yes it has gone well so far. What’s most important to Daniel, I and the Club is the consistency of our work and believing in our philosophy and what we are trying to create, and we truly believe that results follow that and at the minute results are pretty good.
“We’ve just got to keep doing what we are doing, we’ve got a good group of players, a good group of staff and we feel like a lot of work has gone on to get the fans connected and it feels like that is happening now. But we’ve got to keep going and see where it takes us, we’ve never set any limits or any targets, just to be better than what we were last season and that’s in every area not just in the league table.”
Do you feel there has been a change in culture at the Club?
Daniel: “Yes, the mood is lifted, the atmosphere is lifted a lot and it really is one unit at Carrow Road but also at the away games. I get the feeling that everyone buys into our philosophy and there’s a big identification between the players and the Club and the players and the supporters and it’s brilliant to feel this and to be able to work in these times.
“I think it is important that everyone around Colney and Carrow Road and especially our supporters are allowed to fly and to dream and to enjoy this period. It’s also important that we keep our feet on the ground because it’s hard work which makes our football look so good and so simple at the moment and you have to work a lot to bring this on the pitch.”
How does it work when you want to recruit a new player?
Stuart: “Daniel and I talk everyday about players. When we look at the players we signed in the summer, we had been talking about them for the last year, so it’s an ongoing conversation. We come up with a collaborative list between us and now as a Club and a scouting team we really understand what the philosophy of the Club is and we would never put a player in the list that Daniel knows straight away would not fit. We spend a lot of time with the players to make sure they are right for us.”
There have been a lot of youngsters coming through into the First Team who have been consistently good, how do you keep them level-headed?
Daniel: “It’s a mix, it’s totally up to the character of the young lads if they can handle the expectation and then it’s up to the Club and I’m in a responsible role so it’s up to me but also up to the group of players and we have a really good balance in our team. We’ve got some really great personalities and some big leaders in the group and we have players like Tim Krul, Grant Hanley, Alex Tettey and Jordan Rhodes who have that experience.
“Our young lads are so focused, so modest and so diligent in the way they work, and they understand that they have been there with six or seven really good performances but quality is defined by performance over a long period. And there will be setbacks and possibly problems with their form but they have to be mentally strong and accept there will be games with one or two mistakes but to still go further on and deliver on a consistent level is important.”
What do you hope to get out of this week in Tampa?
Stuart: “There are the health benefits for the players being in the sun and it’s also a change of environment. The international players get a change of environment by going away with their national teams and the ones who don’t just keep seeing Colney, so to have that change is great. We also want to create a little bit of spirit and bring the football and business sides closer together because we are quite a unique club in terms of our self-funding model and we’ve got to try to look at other ways rather than selling players to create money to grow the Club.”
Daniel: “It’s a pretty important promotion for the Norwich City brand in the USA and for the business side that is important. We spoke for a long time about when the right time was for us to do this because there is no time when you are playing games and also in pre-season it’s not the best time because you lose two days traveling and have to adapt to a different time zone. So the best situation is to do it in the first week of the international break because we calm down the load for the players anyway because they had so many games in the recent weeks and in the second week you then focus more on the next games again. And to have the opportunity to work in November in 27 degrees sunshine is unbelievably brilliant.
“It’s also good to strengthen the bond between teammates. They had a day off and spent the time together on a boat or playing golf and it’s good that they are not only speaking about football but also speaking about other topics because it helps to create commitment and togetherness. It’s also good to strengthen the bond with all our guests who have lots of passion for the Club and I think it’s the perfect week for that.”
How have you found settling into life in Norfolk and Championship football?
Daniel: “From the first day I really felt at home and I really appreciate each and every day working for this Club. I have felt so much support and trust from the whole region and I think that is really unique.”
How key is the Academy for bringing younger players through into the team?
Stuart: “The Academy is a key part of our strategy. I have a big involvement with it in terms of talking to the Academy manager and watching lots of games and Daniel will also watch the games and the players and invite some over for training.
“But one thing Daniel has been very consistent on is not just giving gifts out and letting players come over for the sake of coming over. When they come over, they come over properly and he gives them the time to do their work and trusts them and I think the Academy only works if you have someone at the top willing to pick the players. If you take Max Aarons, Daniel gave him his league debut away at Ipswich and that is massive to do that with an 18-year-old. It’s about trust and people believing in each other and in our philosophy.”