Bottom six accusations ‘a disgrace’ says Stuart Webber as he warns potential suitors that City won’t stand for bullies in transfer market
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After weeks of endless speculation, Norwich City will resume their top-flight campaign today – something Stuart Webber is relieved to see.
Throughout the coronavirus-enforced suspension, the Canaries have been portrayed as rebels keen to disrupt the hegemony of a top-flight seeking to reserve its opulence.
With the bottom six the villains, speculation spread around media outlets like wildfire, with reports of demands being presented by relegation-threatened clubs becoming more absurd with every passing day.
First it was scrapping relegation, then it was neutral venues: at City, there’s an expression used frequently, ‘ignore the noise’.
Over the past few weeks, Webber along with Zoe Ward and Ben Kensell, have been forced to navigate their way through criticism over furloughing, ensuring the training ground is a safe environment for work and providing answers to those internally who have sought them.
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After three months of uncertainty, speculation and unwanted typecasting, City will finally get to face their critics on the pitch.
“We’ve been made to feel, as Norwich City 20th in the league, that we haven’t really got a voice. It’s been interesting going through this period.
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“That’s a disgrace (the accusations thrown at the bottom six clubs). Not at any one point has one club said that they don’t want to play.
“Not at one point has any one club said that they don’t believe relegation is fair or right but the portrayal around neutral venues and relegation was a disgrace,” Webber said.
“It was completely unfair and unfounded and it was wrong. We’ve had our thoughts to the Premier League and let them know privately what we think about that – because it was wrong and it suited an agenda at that time.”
City, along with their relegation-threatened rivals, were the subject of numerous accusing reports, something Webber has been left feeling suitably aggrieved about.
“I think the media have been relentless during this,” Webber told the My Corona Podcast by HodgeyTheHack.
“The amount of requests constantly to speak about the subject and the amount of journalists who are constantly in contact with me wanting to know something and it’s like ‘no’.
“I think they’ve had to, unfortunately, create stories and if you look at certain people, they decided very early to go on the angle of marginalising the bottom six. That was unfair.”
Webber stated in an interview with Sky Sports News in May that City weren’t opposed to relegation and their preference would be to complete the season behind closed doors.
Despite this admission, as well as City’s sporting director stating that other clubs in the Premier League opposed neutral venues, he believes the reports have continued to feed an agenda.
“Even when it came out loud and clear that there were many more clubs than just the bottom six who opposed it, even at this point they couldn’t go ‘maybe we got it wrong’.
“Then the next thing was that the bottom six clubs were trying to stop Project Restart because they want relegation off the table – nobody has ever said that.
“I get it. This is why I don’t have social media, because you get people commenting on things that they have zero knowledge about.”
If the Canaries season does end in relegation back to the Championship, key members of the club’s hierarchy have stated City will be a positive financial position to fight for a swift return to the Premier League.
Speaking about the speculation surrounding City’s young talent, Webber insists he won’t allow the club to be bullied in negotiations.
“We’ve set the stool out with how we negotiate with the James Maddison deal. Anyone who’s going to pick up the phone to me and ask for one of our players knows they aren’t going to tickle me and it’s not going to be easy.
“All of our players are on long-term contracts. To leave here won’t be easy for any player if we don’t want them to. It shouldn’t be.
“I have to do what’s right for the club. I can’t stand bullies and that’s something I strong disagree with in life. We will never get bullied by another club. Whether they think they’re bigger than us or not.
“We’re not having that. What happens is I go into stubborn mode and I go into being an a******* mode and I don’t care because I know how hard everyone works at this club and how much it means to the community and the supporters.”