Norwich sporting director Stuart Webber has explained why he told the club’s players to shut out the noise from outside influences when he first arrived at Carrow Road.
Webber joined Norwich in April 2017, with the side down in the Championship, having been relegated from the Premier League the previous year.
It seemed that Webber could sense some doubts within the squad at the start of his time at the club, and he wanted to change this.
Speaking on the High Performance Podcast, Webber clarified what he told the players four years ago.
Webber said: “When you believe in something, when you believe in a way, when you’ve worked years to develop that way, you have to stick with it and you’ve got to see it through. Yes, be open-minded to adapt it, absolutely.
“But I think we now live in a world, I’m sure you’ll get it with this podcast, where you’ll have feedback after every episode. Good, bad, indifferent and I think you’ve got two choices. You can choose to look at that from someone who hasn’t got a clue and go: ‘oh God, someone who hasn’t got a clue is now in my head muddling me a little bit.’
“So actually, maybe we should change doing what we’ve done. Even though it’s successful, we should change it because you know again Bob the Builder who hasn’t got a clue has slagged it off or something like that, or we can choose to ignore that and I’m a big believer in, if you let the noise get in the way that’s when you start getting muddled. If you believe in what you’re doing, that’s the key. I believe you’ve got to protect your staff, players, staff from that noise.”
Webber gave an example of sticking with this principle when Tim Krul was being jeered by supporters for panicking when being closed down by Daniel James in a league match against Swansea.
Webber continued: “Tim needed protection at that point in terms of, listen, he don’t need me to protect him but what he needed, it was reassurance of, ‘ignore them, they don’t know. Half of them have probably had two beers and don’t even know where the ball is. So ignore them you’ve got to just ignore that and this is how we do it. This is how we play, this is what we do, this is what we’re building our success on.’
“Not because we’ve got nervy because there’s some rapid centre forward who keeps closing it down. It’s like no ‘ignore that’, but no I think it’s usually important because I think if you get caught up with it, it can eat you alive.”
It seems that Webber was always looking at the bigger picture, and wanted to drum into the players that remaining faithful to their principles as a squad would benefit the team in the long run.
That approach appears to have worked. Norwich earned promotion to the Premier League in 2018/19, and although they went straight back down again, they have now just secured their return to the top-flight once more.
It demonstrates how only listening to the right people can have a major impact on managing to achieve high performance, and the Norwich players seem to be blocking out the noise very well at the moment.
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