Paddy’s Pointers: Five observations from Norwich City’s Adam Idah-inspired FA Cup third round 4-2 win at Preston North End
- Credit: Michael Sedgwick/Focus Images Ltd
Group Football Editor Paddy Davitt delivers his Preston verdict after the Canaries’ 4-2 FA Cup third round away win.
1. Natural born goalscorer
Daniel Farke's description of Adam Idah at Colney on Friday could have come back to haunt Norwich City's head coach. He also said the 18-year-old Irishman had a 'gift' for scoring goals.
Boy, did he call that right. Idah announced his arrival to a wider audience with a composed, clinical and cool hat-trick.
For a man making only his second senior start the precision of his work was outstanding.
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You could point to the level of opposition, and the generous assistance from Preston keeper Connor Ripley, but Idah's movement and finishing prowess would not have looked out of place on a grander stage.
Farke indicated pre-match any possible lower league loan move for Idah was on hold until the likes of Teemu Pukki, Dennis Srbeny and Josip Drmic return to fitness.
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But this shift may have forced a bigger re-think. Idah looked a distance from the Norwich first team on League Cup duty at Crawley earlier in the season. He looked at home on this evidence.
2. FA Cup landmark
This was only Norwich's second win in the world famous competition since 2013. That is a sad indictment on various teams, players and managers during the intervening period.
No-one could accuse Farke of belitting the cup competitions since his arrival in England.
So it was again, with a team showing eight changes from the last Premier League outing but packed with talent and fringe men keen to impress and push their claims for greater involvement.
It also extended a mini unbeaten run to three games, which can only top up the confidence and inject some extra momentum into the towering task of reviving their Premier League survival hopes.
But that is for another day. Norwich will take their place in the hat for the fourth round for only the second time since 2013. A favourable draw or two from here and who knows how far the Canaries can ride this cup wave.
3. Lesser spotted Leitner
Much has been made of Moritz Leitner's total omission from Farke's plans since the Premier League defeat at Brighton on November 2.
Those who like a conspiracy or three on social media claimed there had been a huge fallout with his head coach. Farke insisted the return to fitness of both Tom Trybull and Mario Vrancic, combined perhaps with Leitner's inability to really stamp his quality on Norwich's top flight quest, had relegated him to the shadows.
This may only prove brief respite when the Premier League bandwagon rolls onto Manchester United. But it should at least quell any idea he is persona non grate.
Leitner showed glimpses of his quality on the ball at Preston but again, paired alongside Trybull from the start at Preston, there was also ample evidence of perhaps the lack of defensive protection when he operates without the combative presence of an Alex Tettey or an Ibrahim Amadou around him.
It may got lost in the eulogies for Idah's eye-catching display but Michael McGovern was required to make a string of excellent stops to avoid an improbable Preston comeback.
Nevertheless in possession and at the top end of the pitch you could visibly see the difference in quality and the gulf between Premier League opponents and Alex Neil's much-changed line up.
Marco Stiepermann had time and space to get on the half turn and feed balls through in a manner we simply have not seen on a consistent basis in the big time.
When City coughed up possession in dangerous areas, this Preston vintage simply did not have the quality to punish them.
The final goal of the game for the hosts, came after a passage of play when at least four Norwich players had a chance to clear their lines. It was a reminder perhaps in the bigger picture City possibly currently hover in a strange place somewhere between the two leagues at present. Too good for the Football League, not quite good enough on a consistent basis for the Premier League. Yet.
5. Premier League bounce?
Well, an away win and four goals scored in the process can certainly not harm City's chances of an unlikely survival mission.
Minutes for players on the margins, and the first real blossoming of an emerging attacking talent all mark this out as a good day at the office. But Farke and his coaching brains will know full well a trip to Old Trafford is a considerable step up in quality.
Nevertheless, can you imagine the reaction if City had succumbed in compliant fashion or, worse still, blown a seemingly unassailable first half lead?
Farke must harness the positives and as the head coach himself accurately pointed out, a League Cup win at Cardiff last season was the spark to ignite a memorable league surge.
History needs to repeat itself.