Connor Southwell: Why do pundits like O'Hara keep getting Norwich City so wrong?

Mathias Normann of Norwich, Ozan Kabak of Norwich and Grant Hanley of Norwich at the end of the Prem

Norwich City have been given constant criticism by some media outlets this season. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

One of Norwich City's mantras is to 'ignore the noise' surrounding the club but given the incessant and constant barrage of criticism landing in their direction, it may be time to tune in and display a response. 

It's a well-known fact that with Premier League status comes more coverage, analysis and inevitably, criticism. It is the most consumed football league on the planet and there is a degree of expectation for any team who steps foot within it. 

That is the very reason the football community rallied together to stop the Super League before it could gain traction - a proposal designed to create a closed shop whereby the rich get richer and one that would have taken a hammer to a pyramid that thrives on competition and permits clubs to grow. 

That is what makes the constant criticism of Norwich City so difficult to accept.

After that epoch, everyone was determined to ensure that the treatment of clubs outside the top six was more generous. That fiscal responsibility was advocated and our approach to football as a nation would radically shift. 

But here we are just a few months later, with characters like Jamie O'Hara proposing that the Premier League should be reduced to 18 teams to prevent clubs like Norwich City from ever gaining entry. 

Or, if you want it simplified, a closed shop whereby the rich get richer and to hell with the rest of you. Sound familiar?

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In that model, Norwich would still have been promoted because they stormed the Championship and won the title. All that would do is rob Brentford of a place in the Premier League and throw a few more clubs over the edge and into the financial abyss. 

The fact that even after the demise of Bury, the struggles of Derby, Oldham, Bolton and numerous others that certain pundits are peddling for more elitism and more financial risk is dangerous for the future of the game. Especially as we hope to emerge from a pandemic with clubs intact. 

Let's be frank, there is plenty to criticise Norwich for from a playing perspective at present. They have shipped too many goals and are struggling to achieve an equilibrium between defence and attack. We could go on. 

But in a business where the vast majority of clubs are losing money, some even to the tune of hundreds of thousands every month, how can the Canaries' model possibly be the one getting battered? 

Last time City were in the Premier League, they were the only club to record a profit. Ultimately critics will point to their relegation, but were then happily slapping Sheffield United on the back for their work in the top-flight. 

For the Blades' exploits in their debut campaign, they didn't improve their infrastructure, nor did they generate much cash from their playing squad. Bramall Lane wasn't enhanced. They are now projected to lose £57m owed to relegation.

That isn't a criticism of Sheffield United, it is a criticism of the circus of the Premier League and the different narratives peddled by those who are either within it or shaping its discourse. 

Norwich Head Coach Daniel Farke gives the thumbs up to applauds the traveling support at the end of

Daniel Farke is hoping to prove the doubters wrong at Norwich City. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

These are the same people who cannot believe what has happened to Derby County but are still proposing clubs should display 'more ambition' by gambling the futures of their clubs in order to finish one place higher in a league they will never win. 

Boil it down, and that is the crux of why Norwich receive so much criticism. 

People cannot comprehend why they are trying to buck the trend. Either that or they simply don't care. 

Unlike Brentford or Sheffield United, there is no narrative. People are bored with Norwich's existence at the top table of English football. But to claim they don't offer anything to the Premier League is simply wrong. 

English football needs a club like Norwich to survive in the Premier League to prove to clubs like Derby and others chasing the golden ticket of the top-flight at any means necessary that it can be done in a sustainable way. 

Only then may we see transfer prices come down, fans be handed more of say and the outlook of football in this country shift. 

Norwich have stood at the edge of the financial abyss and seen the darkness. Nobody can blame them for wishing to operate in the manner they do now. It won't change because an ex-player with four relegations in seven years refuses to accept that they won't bankrupt themselves in exchange for finishing 17th. 

That doesn't mean City fans are content with their current form or where they stand in the league - far from it. They want to stay in the Premier League. They want to prove they can do it their way. They are longing for Daniel Farke to guide them to safety. 

Considering some of these players currently polluting the airwaves spent considerable portions of their careers fighting against relegation and playing in matches described by themselves as 'irrelevant', some of the criticism is a little bit rich. 

If ambition is quantified by transfer fees, then Norwich showed plenty. They spent more than half the teams in the division. More than Liverpool. Close to Tottenham. That claim simply doesn't hold any weight. 

There is an argument that their greater aim of survival by sustainability is more ambitious than anything currently being witnessed in the Premier League. 

They don't have an owner who can wave away large amounts of debt or provide a cash injection to sign a player who could shift things drastically. They have to be creative in the transfer market and give chance to academy prospects.  

Norwich City's Joint Majority Shareholder Delia Smith arrives at the ground and chats and waves to t

Delia Smith and Michael Wynn Jones don't rank among the richest owners in the Premier League. - Credit: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

Norwich have the poorest owners in the Premier League. They don't even come close to those who are in charge of Championship clubs. They are shattering expectations and proving to other clubs it can be done without sacrificing the long-term future of your club. 

Despite their lack of wealth compared to other owners, they are also present. Always accountable. Always accessible. The same cannot be said for custodians of other clubs. 

But instead of facts, their critics go for theatre. Instead of being right, they opt to whip up frenzy in order to fulfil their need for clicks. Instead of providing nuanced debate, they look to one-up each other on who can say the most outlandish thing. 

In spite of it all, Norwich City won't be deterred. They will continue to do it their way. All it will do is make survival sweeter if they could attain it. 

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