David Webb

David Webb - The next Graham Potter?


David Webb was appointed City's manager on December 2, 2022 in succession to John Askey. He has experience of different high level roles at several Premier League and European clubs and will be assisted by Michael Morton.

Chairman Glen Henderson noted, "I am incredibly pleased to welcome David and Michael to the club as our new first team management team. The key to this appointment was finding someone who aligns with our long-term vision for the club and David was the standout candidate from the start. He is talented and experienced across all aspects of managing a football club, from first-team management, player development, scouting, coaching, motivation and with an excellent understanding of how the football business works. He brings with him a talented coach in Michael, who has a track history of playing a key part in the development of top-class footballers."

The 42 year old Webb beat over 60 candidates for the position, no doubt consisting of many of the usual has beens, chancers and wasters from ex England managers downwards, all eager to get (back) onto the managerial merry go round. Whilst City will be his first time as a manager, that is about the only role he hasn't undertaken in a long post playing career.

On joining City, he noted he'd watched some City games live and felt that Michael Morton was local and had a good understanding of the club, traits that John Askey had noted in Kingsley James.

Webb holds UEFA 'A' and 'B' licenses, enough to manage in the Premier League, and spent time studying coaching and management techniques in Europe, including time with Hoffenheim and Real Betis. Like to Graham Potter, Webb supplemented his coaching development with a similar higher education pathway and has an honours degree in Sports Science and MSc in Sports Psychology.

After a playing career that never really progressed beyond academy football, Webb has spent over 20 years in various coaching, scouting and academy roles, starting at academy level, at a wide range of clubs. Starting with AFC Wimbledon, he was appointed Scouting Coordinator at Crystal Palace in August 2002 where he was prepared to look outside their usual scouting areas and to look for untapped potential rather than chase the best. After 3 years, similar roles followed at Spurs, Millwall and Southampton. At Southampton, he was more focused on academy (and young) player recruitment than coaching. It was here that he first worked with Mauricio Pochettino who later recruited him onto his staff at Spurs. In June 2013, he was appointed as Head of First Team Recruitment at Bournemouth, newly promoted to the Championship. His 2 years at the club saw them gain promotion to the Premier League for the first time ever. He left to become Spurs' Head of Elite Potential Identification, a role that combined elite recruitment with the development of academy players (Harry Winks, Oliver Skipp, Josh Onomah and Troy Parrott included). In October 2018, he became Technical Director at Ostersunds FK working with Ian Burchnall (later Notts County and now Forest Green) shortly after Graham Potter left the club. A year later, he was head hunted by Huddersfield to become their Head of Football Operations at Huddersfield Town. With the manager sacked on his first day, one of his first tasks was to prise the highly rated Danny and Nicky Cowley away from Lincoln after they'd turned down interest from other Championship sides. He left the role at the end of that season. In February 2021, rumours of interest from Glasgow Celtic came to nothing.

At Crystal Palace, he was noted for the discovery of Wilfried Zaha, and talent identification has been a skill that he has been credited with throughout his career. At Bournemouth Webb was the Head of First Team Recruitment supporting Eddie Howe during the Cherries' promotion to the Premier League and he played a key role in several important signings such as England star Callum Wilson, Dan Gosling and Junior Stanislas. At Spurs, Webb worked with Paul Mitchell as they opened the door for Son Heung-min, a £22m signing and saw Dele Alli emerge from starlet to England international. One knowledgeable source stated (during the time Webb was in hospital with covid) he'd interviewed for the Georgia manager post prior to joining City, a later source stated it was the assistant manager post and it happened after City.

Having worked in many different roles at different levels in different countries, both on the playing side and board room, Webb should have a good appreciation of how the numerous elements of a football club interact and the how to fulfil the requirements to satisfy all parties and wise enough to know that different circumstances demand different approaches.

Whilst no new manager ever comes with success guaranteed, it is to be hoped that David Webb lives up to his CV and can move City forward. Standing still is not a long term option. Over the years, City have appointed many previously failed managers who’ve added another failure to their CV at City. Webb's lack of first team management is a downside, but he arrives with a strong philosophy and much broader experience than many managers we've employed.

It must be remembered that, excluding “in house” promotions, some of our best managers over the years have arrived at our club with no first team management experience. Denis Smith, John Ward and Alan Little all proved to be successful. Webb’s philosophy of championing youth might be more difficult to implement given City’s position outside the EPPP and Football League meaning that City have very little protection to stop young talent being poached whilst the lack of a reserve side only has surely stifled youth to first team progression over recent years. Equally, with the vast majority of the first team squad being on one year contracts, it is unrealistic to expect City to profit from large transfer fees any time soon.

If Webb can develop a youth pathway into the first team, no one will complain, far better youngsters wanting to progress then senior pros, many of whom are on a downwards journey out of the professional game.

Whilst we remain ever grateful to John Askey for getting us out of National League North, plenty of commentary points to fundamental differences of opinion between him and Glen Henderson in how a manager / chairman relationship should work, it is to be hoped that David Webb can build a much more fruitful relationship with the board.

But, remember, it took Askey a painful 3 months before he started to turn around our side.

Many will see similarities between the backgrounds of David Webb and Graham Potter. If David Webb has only half the success of Graham Potter it will be a good appointment.

Joining Webb's management team at York City, fellow UEFA 'A' licensed coach Michael Morton who left his role as Youth Development Phase Lead at Leeds United which he has held since 2018. Morton started his coaching career with the Whites in 2003 before making the move to Manchester City working in academy coaching and talent identification. A young but vastly experienced coach, he continued to work in youth development as head of i2i academy during a spell in which the York-based academy produced nine professional footballers. During this time, he got a taste of senior first team management during his time (2013-8) at Tadcaster Albion. After Tadaster, he returned to work in Leeds' academy until joining City.

Webb’s reign got off to an inauspicious start, he was struck down and hospitalised with a severe bout covid on day 3 in charge. In his absence, City’s fortunes immediately improved as City won both games before he made his match debut on Boxing Day and oversaw an abject 3-0 home defeat to lowly Gateshead. Afterwards, giving his first post match interview, he could maybe forgiven for some of his ramblings given he’d just spent over a week in hospital and was possibly still not 100%.

City’s team appeared to lack direction and cohesion. In 3 games, substituted players made their displeasure known as they left the pitch. Quickly, a clamour for his head grew and he was sacked on February 8th after 66 days in charge. The evening before, City lost 2-3 at home to Solihull Moors. Webb looked a broken man, leaning against the hoardings during the game, seemingly unable to motivate his side for a game where he had made 2 changes to his starting line up, the least he’d made in his time in charge of City. YCFC - Statement

Speaking to Radio York before his last game, he noted how Solihull Moors were struggling, he cited their frequent changes of formation. Then City lined up with a different formation to the previous game.

Webb's reign was noticeable for a near consistent change in formation and personnel changes, often playing players in what might not be considered to be their best position. In all games, his record was played 10, won 3 (including 2 when he was hospitalised), drew 2 and lost 5. Maybe he wasn’t given a fair crack of the whip by City’s supporters. He was replacing the ever popular John Askey and was seen by many as Glen Henderson’s puppet.

For the record:

  1. Daniel Webb, the Chesterfield assistant manager was prominent in the betting odds to be City's next manager. He is the son of David Webb, the 1970s Chelsea defender
  2. Our David Webb is no relative of them
  3. At the time of his City appointment, David Webb did not have a wikipedia entry
  4. No mention was ever made of David Webb's contract duration.

Post City (1): Webb did various media work, including newspaper interviews and appearances on Sky Sports, BT Sports and Talksport. There were rumours of a position of Mauricio Pocchettino's backroon staff at Chelsea. On 4th September, 2023, he shared on Linkedin that he'd taken up a position as Assistant First Team coach with the Georgian Football Federation, Russ Wilcox was one of the first people to congratulate him.

Post City (2): In September 2023, at the second time of asking, Wikipedia deleted its David Webb page deeming him not a person of significance (as in prominence, not achievement). In terms of significance, if not achievement, he is far more prominent than some of the other City related Wiki content.

Read: YCFC - Press Statement

Listen: YCFC - First interview

Read: The Athletic - Time at York (May 2023)

Read: David Webb - scouting Wilf Zaha

Listen: David Webb - on his Huddersfield role

Read: David Webb - departure from Huddersfield announced

Read: Training Ground Guru (February 2020)

Listen: Ask The Coach - David Webb (August 2020)

Read: CEO Magazine Interview (April 2021)

Read: Webb on Poch, Spurs and more. The Sun (25/March/2023)

Read: David Webb: Linkedin

Read: Michael Morton: Linkedin

Read: David Webb in Georgia (January 2024)