'Credit to them' - TalkSport reporter backtracks on City comments

Daniel Farke and Stuart Webber speak to the press after Farke's contract extension until 2025_TT

Norwich City head coach Daniel Farke and sporting director Stuart Webber talking to the media at Carrow Road last month - Credit: Tony Thrussell

TalkSport reporter Alex Crook has started to back down on comments about Norwich City which riled Canaries supporters.

The comments, widely seen as offensive and inaccurate, came on the back of the newly-promoted side's 5-0 defeat away to billionaire reigning champions Manchester City last Saturday.

Crook was either purposefully winding up City fans or had next to no knowledge of how Norwich go about their business with comments such as "in some ways, it goes against sporting integrity" and "they have no real intention of competing".

He also questioned if the money made on granting Emi Buendia's wish to be sold to Aston Villa, an initial £33million potentially rising to £38m, had been reinvested - seemingly overlooking that Norwich have so far spent around £50m in the club's most expensive transfer window ever.

The video has over 400,000 views on Twitter and has seen Crook bombarded by angry messages throughout the week, so he will probably see it as a job well done.

That didn't stop presenter Sam Matterface and pundit Darren Lewis from poking fun in his direction and forcing him to back down though, begrudgingly, during the latest TalkSport podcast Game Day.

Turning their attention to City's home clash with Leicester this Saturday, Crook was given a chance to explain himself and while he stopped short of apologising, he did start backtracking swiftly.

Matterface: "Crook, do you want to lead this, or are the Norwich fans still gunning for you?"

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Crook: "Well let me just say, in the balance of fairness, I've had a lot of feedback from Norwich fans to my comments on Sunday night - an incredible amount."

Lewis: "Feedback? That's an interesting name for it."

Matterface: "It is, isn't it. It's a bit like management speak or PR spin!"

Crook: "What I would say is I stand by my prediction, I think they will be relegated. But what I am told from insiders at Carrow Road, is that there is an absolute, cast-iron motivation this time to stay in the Premier League.

"Maybe unlike last time when they spent less than £1million (incorrect), they have been quite active even this week in the transfer market, bringing in Brandon Williams on loan, and I'm told they're working on one or two more additions as well.

"So credit to them for 'having a go' this time, maybe my comments were more frustration from what they did last time in the Premier League."

Matterface: "Whoa, whoa, whoa, hold on. There is a huge articulated lorry reversing in a very tight cul-de-sac.

"Last week you were saying they were damaging the sporting integrity of the Premier League with their attitude and now you're giving them credit for having a go?

"They haven't won a game yet, have they scored a goal yet? They haven't, have they?"

Crook: "No, they haven't, but they are trying to sign players which is a different tactic from last time,

"Listen, they stunk the place out the last time they were in the Premier League, I didn't agree with that, going down and taking the parachute money. It didn't sit right with me and I maintain that.

"But as I say, I'm told this time there is a determination to stay up. I don't think they will.

"I think this is potentially another defeat, although Leicester didn't look great against West Ham did they (losing 4-1) and they're struggling for numbers."

Matterface: "Stop deflecting, we're not finished with Norwich yet. Biggest U-turn of the week? Alex Crook or Harry Kane?! Let us know."

Norwich City are, of course, as open to criticism as all football clubs and often welcome high-profile media attention. Criticism must be based on facts though.

For example, in 2019-20, the only permanent fee was the £750,000 paid to West Ham for Sam Byram. However, Josip Drmic was signed as a free agent which would have come with a signing-on fee and good wages.

Ibrahim Amadou, Ralf Fahrmann and Patrick Roberts were all signed on loans that came with fees, as well as U23s defender Rocky Bushiri on a permanent deal, during the summer transfer window.

The club's accounts for 2018-19 included a post-balance sheet note, explaining that City were committed to payments of £6.2m for those transfers, with a further £4.7m depending on club and player performance.

That was added to in January by the loan signing of Ondrej Duda from Hertha Berlin and the addition of Lukas Rupp from Hoffenheim for around £500k and youngster Sam McCallum, in a deal which could reportedly be worth around £3.5m eventually.

The club's wage budget rose from £43.6m in 2018-19, to £73.3m in the top flight, although that was 75pc of turnover, as opposed to the 162pc from the promotion season which was bumped up by promotion bonuses.

Those figures may be minor in Premier League terms but at a time when so many clubs are struggling financially and the threat of the European Super League has just been seen off, you'd think a little more respect would be given to a club not spending more than it can afford out of short-term desperation.

The club's senior staff held their hands up to 2019-20 proving unsuccessful, with mitigation including a defensive injury crisis and a three-month break for a global pandemic before returning behind closed doors.

Yet as Daniel Farke calmly explained last week, the Canaries won the Championship title with 97 points to earn another crack at trying to earn survival alongside far wealthier clubs, and will be doing all they can to make that happen.

Writing off their chances after defeats to Liverpool and Manchester City in the opening two games, after a pre-season heavily disrupted by a Covid-19 outbreak, is harsh in the extreme.

As ever, if you want reliable Norwich City news and views, head to Pinkun.com or pick up a copy of the Eastern Daily Press or Norwich Evening News.

We'll be bringing you updates from Daniel Farke's pre-match press conference today, from around 1.15pm, with a 12 page Pink Un inside tomorrow's newspapers and full preview on our websites.

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