News Now: Five items that should be at the top of Knapper’s City to-do list

Ben Knapper, the new Norwich City sporting director, begins his new job in November.

New Norwich City sporting director Ben Knapper starts his new role in November. <i>(Image: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd)</i>

With a plethora of issues for new Norwich City sporting director Ben Knapper to handle upon his arrival, Samuel Seaman considers what his main priority should be.

Wagner, David

Much of the speculation around Knapper’s entrance has already focused on David Wagner.

A successful sporting director model means that the club’s direction is set by one person, and the Arsenal loans manager is that person as of November 27.

Asa result, Wagner must comply with his new boss’ requests, and Knapper must evaluate whether this is the case as soon as possible.

The two have already met, according to executive director Zoe Webber.

The Pink Un: Canaries head coach David Wagner will have to impress Knapper.

David Wagner, the Canaries’ head coach, will have to impress Knapper.(Photo by Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd.)

play style

Within that direction of travel comes a style of play that fans will be eager to recognize.

An allied conviction in possession-based football was critical to Stuart Webber and Daniel Farke’s transcendingly successful combo, and Knapper will want to convey his own style of game at Carrow Road.

The head coach is hired to do so, but only on the 36-year-old’s orders. Wagner’s brand is undeniably more recognizable than Dean Smith’s mishmash of methods, but there is a level of specificity lacking that Knapper will try to establish.

Communicating with Backers

One of the factors that contributed to Webber’s early success was his dedication to

The Pink Un: Communication with fans will be key for the current Arsenal loans manager.

For the current Arsenal loan manager, communication with fans will be critical.

The atmosphere at Carrow Road this season has demonstrated fans’ openness when brought along for the ride, and while Knapper will have a lot to learn from the Welshman before taking over, he’ll understand the significance of keeping them on board.

Given his lack of experience with media and communications, adjusting to that expectation will be critical, but City will be confident that their man is capable of doing so.

Getting to Know Your Club’s Finances

Anyone who has attempted to decipher the paperwork accompanying Mark Attanasio’s growing City engagement understands how convoluted football financing can be.

Knapper has a wealth of expertise from his time at Arsenal, but there’s no denying the quantity of information he’ll have to analyze and interpret before making football judgments in Norfolk.

Everyone can see that City’s financial might is limited right now, with less than £2 million spent on first-team transfer fees this summer while more than £20 million was poured in. But Knapper’s first few weeks will almost definitely involve delving into the specifics of what that entails.

January preparations

Of course, when it comes to finances in football, the biggest question is how much can and will be spent.

The Pink Un: City signed Marquinhos from Knapper's Arsenal in last January's only signing.

Last January, City’s only signing was Marquinhos from Knapper’s Arsenal.

Knapper’s experience implies that in the lack of actual spending power, the loan path could be a feasible option for the Canaries, albeit player sales remain a part of the club’s philosophy. Given Webber’s and his recruitment team’s proclivity for extensive planning, just over a month appears to be a relatively short period of time for his replacement to make their imprint.

In any case, the first month of 2024 is an opportunity for the new sporting director to make a statement of purpose, indicating where he intends to take his new company.

There’s a lot for Knapper to do, but there’s no denying the excitement for a new day in NR1.

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