Sporting directors are here to stay, but they must face the music like managers when teams underperform

By Chris Dunlavy

IT is only a matter of time before more clubs follow Norwich in building their club around a sporting director.

Stuart Webber, above, the 33-year-old poached from Huddersfield, is the expensively-remunerated jewel in the Canaries’ restructured crown and will lead the hunt for a new manager.

Webber, alongside managing director Steve Stone, will also have a major hand in player recruitment.

Old-schoolers may disagree but, implemented correctly, the sporting director model beats an all-powerful manager in most aspects.

Sure, the ‘gaffer’ loses a bit of authority. But, critically, it prevents the damaging and expensive churn of players and staff that has been so catastrophic for clubs like Blackburn.

Watford, who went through four managers in their 2013-14 promotion season, show how irrelevant a settled squad can render any amount of upheaval.

Huddersfield have shown how a symbiotic relationship between director and manager can make light of budgetary restrictions.

It works, but there must be one caveat. If the manager is just a coach, he can no longer be made a scapegoat for a team’s failings. If he is not all-powerful, he cannot be all-culpable.

Men like Webber have seized power in the game, and that is broadly positive. But when the players they bought and the manager they chose are failing, they need to face the music. To do otherwise is cowardly.

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