Monday, January 7, 2013
Norwich City’s FA Cup stroll at Peterborough underlined the widening gulf between the Premier League clubs and the rest.
Chris Hughton made eight changes to his starting line up from the previous New Year’s Day defeat at West Ham, but the only imponderable was the margin of victory at London Road after Elliott Bennett had fired City ahead.
Simeon Jackson’s cool finish just before the interval and Robert Snodgrass’ fifth of a productive campaign sealed the Canaries passage on a day when Hughton’s shadow squad sparkled.
“I think there is no doubt that we have a stronger squad than Peterborough and we are able to bring in players who are very good players,” said Hughton.
“We’ve had a fairly settled side but that is why my players train like they do. I want competition. When you look at players like (David) Fox and (Marc) Tierney and to a degree Leon Barnett, who has had involvement, they all carried themselves very well.
“I was pleased for Dec (Rudd) as well with a clean sheet. We had a lot of energy in our game. That is what I want, I want them to make me make decisions. There isn’t any of them I could fault today.”
Hughton highlighted Norwich’s collective attitude and application as the key to FA Cup progress.
“Of course the result is what you what, but what pleased me the most was the attitude and the performance,” he said.
“Sometimes you get a feel for the game early on and I just felt if we could score we could give ourselves a more comfortable time because our approach from that first minute was very professional.
“Probably the pivotal moment was half-time. If they get a goal back then it is a tough afternoon but I thought we were very professional from first to last minute. They are a team playing with confidence and we all know if you are the more fancied team going away from home it gives everybody in the opposition a lift, but I felt we set our stall out very well early on. I am full of admiration for what Peterborough do.
“They play in a league that is full of ex-Premier League clubs with big budgets. I know how difficult it is for Darren (Ferguson) but with the resources they have they were on a very good run.”
City’s London Road success carried plenty of fringe benefits; notably the end of a festive Premier League losing streak.
“We were on the back of four defeats so irrespective of what the next game was we wanted to win,” said Hughton. “I think we can gain confidence and you saw today we were able to use the squad. That was no disrespect to the opposition. Whatever the game was today I would have played the same team. It is about timing.
“We have a team that has played a lot of games because we haven’t made too many changes. The lads who came in showed they deserved a chance and because of a performance today they have put themselves in the frame for the next round.”
Hughton confirmed after City’s FA Cup cruise Jonny Howson had missed the tie with a knee problem suffered in the closing stages at Upton Park.
The midfielder’s injury is not as bad as first feared and Hughton is hopeful Howson will return to training this week ahead of Newcastle’s Premier League visit – a game skipper Grant Holt is also targeting for a potential comeback from his hamstring injury.
“We’ve had good news on Jonny,” he said. “It was sore afterwards and we thought it might be worse than it was but we are hoping that he will train in a few days. He is fine.
“With Grant we are pushing him as carefully as we can. We need to make sure the hamstring is right but we are pushing very hard for the weekend.”