Webber releases seven players at Norwich

John Ruddy

John Ruddy

SPORTING DIRECTOR Stuart Webber has continued his whirlwind start to life at Norwich City by releasing seven players and holding informal talks with Northern Ireland boss Michael O’Neill about the vacant manager’s job at Carrow Road.

Former England keeper John Ruddy was one of the players to be released, bringing down the curtain on an illustrious seven-year stay at the club. Sebastien Bassong, Steven Whittaker, Ryan Bennett, Michael Turner, Youssouf Mulumbu and Kyle Lafferty are also to leave. All seven were reaching the ends of their contracts.

Webber, who joined the club at the start of April, said: “We'd like to place on record our sincere thanks to all of the players who are moving on for their contribution to the club and wish them all the very best in the next chapter in their careers."

However, the new Sporting Director did extend the contracts of Declan Rudd and Harry Toffolo - who were both on loan - for a further year.

Meanwhile, Webber has held informal talks with Northern Ireland boss Michael O'Neill about the vacant manager's job at Carrow Road. The 33-year-old has said he intends to appoint a head coach within “two to three weeks” of the final game of the season on May 7th.

Alan Irvine has been in interim charge of the team since Alex Neill was fired in March.

O'Neill, 47, has a release clause in his contract stating that he can move to a Premier League club for a fee of £750,000 - and a lower sum for a Championship side.

Shortly after arriving at Carrow Road, Webber sacked technical director Ricky Martin and recruitment chiefs Lee Darnbrough and Tony Spearing.

He has revamped the club's recruitment department, creating the new roles of head of UK and head of European recruitment, and turned to two former colleagues to fill the positions.

Chris Badlan will join from Wolves in the European role, while Kieran Scott, Rangers' first-team scout, will become head of UK recruitment.

Webber had worked with both the men when he was previously head of recruitment at Wolves.

Dr Dan Parnell

EXPERT ANALYSIS:

Dr Dan Parnell: "Of course, the role of Sporting Director demands difficult decisions. Following little engagement with existing staff after taking the new role, Stuart Webber moved on the technical director and their two recruitment chiefs.

You would normally expect a joint statement to have been released - making it clear to staff that although tough decisions have to be made, they would be taken in a fair, transparent and trustworthy manner.

The appointments of the heads of UK and European recruitment showed that in the football world, decision-makers tend to recruit who they know.

Trust is a key element in leadership and a high-performance culture. The decisions so far could add to staff insecurity and lack of trust. This may prove hazardous as Webber attempts to provide strong sporting leadership and success for his new club."

(Dr Dan Parnell leads research on the Master of Sport Directorship course at Manchester Metropolitan University)

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