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OPINION: Ben Knapper has to be afforded time at Norwich City

The Norwich City sporting director, Ben Knapper, faced early pressure and expectations to make a quick decision regarding under-fire head coach David Wagner. However, it was clear that any decision made in haste would have been solely emotional and not in the best interest of the club’s future. Knapper knew that he needed to assess the situation thoroughly before making a fully informed decision. His lack of previous opportunities to observe how Wagner and his coaching team work with players and in match preparations meant that a swift action was not yet possible. Given the significance of the call, it was crucial for Knapper to take his time before reaching a decision. The board brought him in early precisely for this purpose. This period of assessment will be crucial for evaluating Wagner’s performance, and a decision will be made based on more than just results.

Knapper’s focus is on finding a head coach who aligns with his values and shares his vision for the club. While there are expectations placed on Wagner, the assessment period will determine if he can deliver the desired football style. If not, Norwich will hire a head coach who can. This process will take time, but it is an essential step in making the right long-term decision rather than a quick fix. As Knapper continues to assess the situation, he has been in constant dialogue with key personnel at the club and has sought feedback from agents and coaches within the game. A swift dismissal of Wagner in favor of a fresh start, while the easier decision, would have gone against the big-picture attitude that Knapper has adopted as the club’s sporting director.

The perception among supporters was that Knapper would instantly dismiss Wagner, but discussions among senior figures at the club, including Knapper himself, indicated that this was not necessarily the case. As the assessment process gathers pace, the expectations of the fans will need to be met with patience, as the decision may not be made during the upcoming international break. Ultimately, Knapper will be judged on the decisions he takes, and the decision regarding Wagner’s future will be made with the long-term success of Norwich City in mind. Despite the pressure created by the club’s poor form, Knapper is committed to making a considered decision that sets the club up for future success.

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