25 May, 2022 | Posted by Colm McDonnell

A Day in the Life: Steve Weaver, Head of Football Development for Norwich City FC

Steve Weaver went from a promising young prospect at Wrexham FC to one of the most experienced and respected coaches in England, now plying his trade with Norwich City FC.

If you want to read more about how he turned an early career-ending injury into a successful coaching career, you can read more about Steve's journey here.

Now working for Norwich City, he initially joined the club as an academy manager. However, he believes that he is more suited to coaching older groups.

“I don’t really have a skillset for younger players. I think that takes greater patience than I’ve probably got. I think I’m suited towards professional players from 18 upwards.

“I’m more comfortable around first teams. I’ve always been around it. My role now is around the first team. There was a time with Huddersfield when I was Academy Manager. I wasn’t exposed to the first team as much. Only three or four years of my career have not been around the top end of the academy or the first team.

“I think my humour lends itself more to adults than younger players. And, at Wolves, we had better people to work with young players than me. I’m probably a little less tolerant. I’m just more suited to older players,” he said.

While he admits he is more suited to older players and their development, Steve has overseen some quality players' development in his time as a coach, from Wrexham all the way through to Norwich.

“At Wrexham, I had Neil Taylor. Welsh international. Probably the most well-known from Wrexham.

Neil Taylor

Neil Taylor playing for Wrexham. Credit: North Wales Live

“Nothing to do with me but the Man City youth team had Daniel Sturridge, Dedryck Boyata, Micah Richards, Ben Mee, Kieran Trippier, Vladimír Weiss. I was very fortunate to be around them for a little bit.

City Youth Cup 08

The Manchester City team that won the FA Youth Cup 2008. Credit: Manchester Evening News

“At Wolves, we had loads of debuts. I bumped into Elliot Bennett the other day, who went on to play for Brighton and Norwich. He was one of the first ones that I used to have, and I used to watch him at Stockport and Bury every week.

Elliot Bennett

Elliot Bennett playing for Wolves. Credit: Shropshire Star

“At Norwich, we’ve had a good run with it. We’ve had the likes of Jamal Lewis, Ben Godfrey, and obviously Max [Aarons],” he said.

Max Aarons

Max Aarons in action for Norwich City. Credit: Sports Illustrate

Steve doesn't like to take credit for the success of the players he has worked with. He points to a quote from Liverpool legend, Kenny Dalglish, when discussing the role he plays.

“I heard a quote years ago. I wasn’t in the room when this happened, but someone was talking about working with a player on this or that and apparently Kenny Dalglish said, ‘do you not think that’s down to the player?’

“My job is to create a pathway, to give players the best chance at succeeding.

“Unfortunately, that’s not necessarily the nicest thing to do. Sometimes you’re constantly saying it’s not good enough. That’s why I have an emphasis on players,” he said.

While the club’s success is one of the most important things for Steve’s job description, he also enjoys seeing players he’s worked with go on to have long careers.

“I take satisfaction out of them having great careers. I bump into them now and I get a hug. Neil Taylor must be 35 or 36 now and I’m thinking where has the time gone? I can remember Neil as a 15-year-old.

“We didn’t do anything other than drive them a bit and create opportunities. My job is to go to the manager or sporting director and say, ‘we’ve got a player here’. What they do with that is up to them.

“You can’t force your opinions on people. You’ve got to do it in a certain way. It’s important to have an opinion and to know when to offer it. I’d like to think over my time, I’ve been on the manager’s side. I wouldn’t put a player in front of him that would put him under pressure.

“I’m part of the team. If they don’t want to play a young player, I don’t get stroppy over it. Likewise, they might like someone and if I don’t think they’re ready or good enough, I’ll say it.

“I think a lot of people in youth development get ahead of themselves. In my mind, we need that player here until he’s 25, not having a debut and never playing again. A lot of people can cling to a debut. We need them to play 300 games. It’s down to them,” he said.

One player he has enjoyed working with over the last number of years is Ireland’s very own Adam Idah.

“I have a good relationship with Adam. Over our time we’ve had a few talks. He’s a really good kid. He was a really big loss for us. We lost him against Crystal Palace. We had got him back to the Adam of the younger days and he looked like he was really coming along. He got the ankle injury then. But he’s running around the pitches again. Hopefully, he’ll be back for pre-season,” he said.

Adam Idah

Adam Idah after scoring his first Premier League goal against Everton, Credit: The 42

Steve was Academy Manager for two and a half years before moving into the role he currently holds in July 2020.

He is now the Head of Football Development for Norwich City. While the title sounds quite grand, Steve says it has nothing to do with him.

“The title has nothing to do with me. The club came up with the title. The Head of Football Development sounded really sexy. If they had just called me a coach that would have suited me fine.

“People get hooked up on who they are and what they are. I’m the opposite of that. I’m quite quiet and in the background. I’m vocal around players but I am one of the silent foot soldiers, I think,” he said.

While he’s not one for fancy titles, the role Steve has with Norwich is an important one.

“Basically, I’m in charge of the older players, linking between the first team and the academy. I float between the two.

“My weekend was training early with the U23s, training with the first team, went to the game against Wolves with the first team, I sit in the stands for the games and feed down information to Dean [Smith], Craig [Shakespeare], and Liam [Bramley].

Smith and Shakespeare

Manager, Dean Smith and Assistant, Craig Shakespeare. Credit: Joe Giddens.

“Very much a focus on young players because we’re a self-sustaining club and we need young players getting into the first team. That’s my day-to-day. Monday comes and I’m back on a bus for a game against Wolves, this time with the U23s.

“There’s never a set day,” he said.

The season is at an end now but the work for Steve still goes on. Unfortunately, Norwich found themselves bottom of the Premier League table, which means they fall back to the Championship for the 2022/23 season.

It is a particularly difficult transition for the club this year. As a Premier League team, they finished their season after most Championship clubs. And, because of the move of the World Cup to Winter, the Championship season now starts earlier than normal, meaning an even shorter period to prepare.

Some players will have less time than others within the club also, as the UEFA Nations League fixtures do not wrap up until the middle of June. It’ll be a tough task for Steve and his colleagues to be prepared.

“With the World Cup and Nations League, it’s really difficult.

“If I’m being honest, the rest time for the players is really poor. Certainly, for the Premier League lads, I think the EFL have it slightly better. I know there’ll be some form of break in November unless you’re involved in the World Cup.

“I think the Nations League goes on until the 15th or 16th of June. We’re back in pre-season on the 23rd. The lads need time to have a break. It takes a good seven to ten days to wind down, to feel normal again after the pressure of the season.

“Then, all of a sudden, you have to get yourself prepared for day one of an off-season programme. Sometimes, being in a bubble for 11 months of the year is really difficult.

“This time, we’re looking at about three and a half weeks for the lads going away on international duty. We’re not sure what pre-season looks like for us because we’re not sure how many lads we’ll have back. Some young players will jump up and be part of the first team role call for the first few weeks.

“We’re in unchartered territory at the moment, because of the November World Cup, for a lot of clubs, not just us. It’s probably the first one we’re looking at and saying that there’s certainly not enough rest time for players. We’re just going to have to manage it. The fixtures will come out soon and you have to digest the Saturday-Tuesday games that you’ll have to go through, in order to manufacture some sort of winter break.

“We’ve had Covid. If there’s anything that could have happened to set you up for this, it was Covid. Covid was a disaster. We had no idea if we were playing on a given weekend. We’re in a three-year period where football has taken a hit. We’ll see what comes, we’ll get through it, and we’ll do the best we can.”

Read More

#FollowYourPassion – From Career-Ending Injury to Head of Development at Norwich City FC

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