Neil Adams: Ben and Todd playing in our first team is fantastic for everybody
From Colchester to Dordrecht, finding the right club to send players on loan to, local or abroad, is paramount at Norwich City.
There isn’t one tried and tested formula for developing the next Ben Godfrey or Todd Cantwell, as loan manager Neil Adams explains: “Every player has his individual pathway. What’s right for one may not be right for another.
“Maybe someone needs to go and get on the ball a lot, like Todd a couple of years ago. That might be totally different from a defender who needs roughing up a bit. You can’t tick every single box but you try to tick as many as possible. Once that happens, I will negotiate the deal and make sure it’s right. .
“As soon as the pen is put to paper, that’s when the monitoring starts, and that’s something we do really thoroughly. We’re watching the players training, playing games and how they’re living to make sure the experience is exactly right for them.”
With one of the long-term objectives for a player on loan being a place in Norwich’s first-team, Adams stays in regular contact with Sporting Director Stuart Webber and Head Coach Daniel Farke.
“Stuart will speak with Daniel regarding the players who are available for loan and how they’re actually doing when they’re on loan,” Adams said. “Even now the transfer window has closed, we’re planning ahead for January about players who will potentially be available for loan.”
A loan spell away from the Canaries doesn’t signal the end of a player’s career at Carrow Road in the way it might at other clubs, Adams explains.
“There are many clubs where I’m sure when players go out on loan they think that’s the end for them and that they’re not really wanted at their club. It’s the opposite here. If we identify a player to go out on loan it’s because he’s ready to go and needs game time.”
“I watch every game and as many as possible live myself. It’s not just about turning up at a ground at 3pm on a Saturday and leaving at quarter-to-five. It’s a daily process culminating with the game on a Saturday.”
Those sent on loan need look no further than Godfrey and Cantwell, who both had to get minutes with spells at other clubs before breaking into City’s first-team..
Commenting on the pair, Adams said: “Todd and Ben were playing in our Under-23s side two years ago and are now regulars in the Premier League. When Ben went to Shrewsbury they were bottom of League One.
“They finished in the play-offs and spent eight of the ten months of the season in the top two. Ben absolutely excelled to the point where it was easy for me to tell Stuart and Daniel that they’d got a player they needed to have a look at. .
“Todd was totally different again. After quite a while at Norwich, he was wondering if anyone wanted him. He was speaking to me daily asking why he wasn’t going out on loan and I told him he had to trust me.
“I didn’t think there was a club right for him. If we’d have sent him to a League Two or League One team where the ball’s flying over his head all the time and he’s not really getting involved, we may have lost a player.
“We know the Dutch second division really well and we got him over there at Fortuna Sittard. After two or three weeks of being out of his comfort zone, which won’t harm him at all, he absolutely excelled as well. .
“They’re totally different pathways, but both Ben and Todd went out, came back, and are playing in our first team now which is fantastic for everybody.”
This season, 17 Norwich players are out on loan across England, Scotland, Holland and America, and Adams insists the club are always looking at exploring new markets.
“It’s not just a case of looking at where’s nearest and getting them on loan to Cambridge United or Colchester United. If it’s right for them to go four or five thousand miles away in Tampa, then that’s right for them. Caleb Richards has played every minute of every game with Tampa Bay Rowdies, who are competing to win the league.
“He’s monitored just as much as somebody would be if they were closer to home. We speak regularly and I’m going over to Tampa next week. Every player is different and we’ll continue to explore as many of the markets that are available and relevant to us as possible.”