“We have to be working 18 months in advance” – that’s the message from Wolves new Head of Recruitment Stuart Webber who is relishing the challenge of being part of the restructured backroom staff at Compton.
Reporting to Head of Football Development and Recruitment Kevin Thelwell, Webber is keen to build on the extensive experiences picked up at Wrexham, Liverpool and QPR, which has included recruiting players such as England winger Raheem Sterling while working at Anfield.
Having started work yesterday, Webber has already been closely involved not only with Thelwell and already-in-place Technical Recruitment Officer Chris Badlan, but first team boss Ståle Solbakken as he considers potential options during the January transfer window.
“It all happened quite quickly but I’m excited to be here and really looking forward to the challenge,” says Webber, who joined Wolves after a spell as one of three Chief Scouts with QPR.
“With Kevin’s change of role and the club looking to go in a slightly different direction it is a good opportunity and an exciting one, although there is a lot of work to do.
“The guys that have left did a very good job but now we have to put our own stamp on it and take things forward.
“We need to have a good network of scouts in operation not only in England but also further afield.
“And we need to bring the department up to speed with modern day football.
“There are so many more resources available now than there has ever been and it is about utilising those to get the best for this club.
“That means identifying good players at good value to help the club develop and get back to where we want to be which is ultimately the Premier League.”
Webber has echoed the view of Thelwell that current focus is split between the present of the January transfer window and the future of potential recruitment to come.
And that is where he insists Wolves will be well prepared for all eventualities moving forward.
“We have to have an eye both on what is happening in January and what will happen in the future, he explains.
“In this job you have to be prepared and ready to deal with different situations.
“What if the top scorer picks up an injury and is out for the season? What if you get a goalkeeping crisis?
“We have to do our due diligence and have plans in place for different eventualities and lists of players ready and available.
“At the same time we don’t want to be making rash decisions in January.
“That can sometimes be a time when you may be rushed into things and the health of the club overall is the most important thing.
“Clearly though you want to meet the manager’s needs and if you can freshen things up and add a couple of players we will try and support and help him as much as possible.”
Webber continues: “We have to be working 18 months in advance.
“We will be looking ahead to this summer, next January and the following summer as well.
“For example, we will look at players out of contract in 2014 who we may be interested in, taking into account who we may lose from our squad from contract situations or whatever the reasons might be.
“So we must be ready for a gap to emerge in a certain position and have something in place – all that starts now.
“We will also be putting a special focus on the Academy recruitment and making sure that comes in line with what the first team are doing.
“We have to make sure we have constantly got a conveyor belt of young players coming through, as well as transitional plans covering for different eventualities because if we are in the Premier League we would be fishing in a different pond.
“The only way to be ready for all of those different scenarios is via good communication, people working hard and having an open-minded attitude to recruiting players.”
In terms of his own experience and expertise, Webber has enjoyed what he describes as “the best apprenticeship” via various different roles at clubs of different statures and levels.
“I’m still quite young but I’ve had a great football apprenticeship,” he says.
“I started with Wrexham and did a lot of coaching and then went into scouting, setting up the scouting process for their Academy.
“I worked with some great people such as Weaves (Steve Weaver) who is now here, Joey Jones, Denis Smith – real football people with a strong background in the game.
“It was the best apprenticeship I could have ever had.
“Fortunately then four years ago I got the chance to go to Liverpool, one of the biggest clubs in the world, and that was a great opportunity.
“I walked in the door and realised things needed to be done from a scouting point of view and relished the challenge.
“I got to work closely with Frank McParland who was Rafa Benitez’s Chief Scout for many years - having a close working relationship with someone of that level was extremely beneficial.
“Then later Kenny Dalglish came in and Damien Comolli, and that meant working with some of the best footballing people that there are.
“Never mind what Kenny did as a player he also won the league as a manager while Damien learned his trade with Arsene Wenger at Arsenal.
“To work with some of these people was absolutely incredible.
“In the summer the opportunity came up to work at QPR with Mark Hughes and (Technical Director)Mike Rigg and for me, that was the next step, involving being ingrained purely within the first team recruitment side of things.
“The project didn’t work for me for a variety of reasons and now Harry is in there I am sure he will take it on.
“But I still learned a great deal and met a lot of good people and it was still an experience I take something from.
“I signed Raheem Sterling as a youngster at Liverpool and Suso, who now has senior experience, and also Jerome Sinclair who is the youngest ever player to have played for the Liverpool first team.
“And for the last four years I have been watching Under-21s down so those players are now into their early 20s.
“I have that knowledge to bring here so if the club are looking in those areas hopefully it will be of benefit.”
Now is it helping take Wolves forward which motivates Webber, who is looking forward to getting his teeth into the new challenge of underpinning a renewed recruitment drive to prepare for the team for future success.
“When I spoke to Jez and met with Kevin and Ståle I thought this is a club who have a plan of how they want to do it,” he concludes.
“I feel we can grow something which is already there when you think of the great stadium and fantastic fanbase.
“It has got some impressive building blocks in place and we just have to keep building those to get back to the Premier League.”